COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A large, fired up crowd packed into a school board meeting in Whiteville Monday night to voice frustrations about the possible closing of four Columbus County schools.
Superintendent Dr. Deanne Meadows is proposing closing Guideway Elementary, Hallsboro and Acme Delco Middle Schools and Columbus Career and College Academy. She says declining enrollment of about 100 students per year is forcing the county to scale down.
“All funding is based on the number of students that we have in the system,” Meadows says, “so we get approximately $8,000 per student. We have several small schools, and those schools cost us more than $9,000 per student.”
Old Dock Elementary would become a kindergarten through fourth grade school, and Nakina Middle School would become a fifth through eighth grade school.
Acme Delco Elementary School and Hallsboro-Artesia Elementary School would become kindergarten through sixth grade schools, and East Columbus High School would become a seventh through 12th grade school.
However, many in the community don’t want to see Guideway close.
“It’s not changing, not upsetting anything if you close Nakina, but if you close Guideway, you’ve upset a whole community,” says Guidway Elementary Advisory Council Chairman Lofton Cox. “They talk about what’s best for the kids, but how about the doggone long bus rides they’re going to have?”
Guideway parent Nico Lagunas believes money isn’t being distributed properly between the schools. He also believes Nakina would be a better option.
“We’re not asking for a bigger gym, we’re not asking for a greater school, we’re just asking to keep the school that’s already there, keep it open so all these children can stay together,” Lagunas says.
There will be public input meetings on January 27th, 28th and 30th at the three traditional high schools before the board votes on the proposal February 3rd.