Columbus County school closures encourage hundreds to attend school board meeting

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Dozens, if not hundreds of parents, teachers and others in the community begged the school board to reconsider a controversial proposal to close several schools at a meeting Tuesday night.

Many people say they’re fed up with the board of education, and they want them to be the ones making sacrifices.

“If we’re going to cut the fat, lets cut the fat!” said Guideway Elementary School parent Nico Lagunas.

Four public schools are on the chopping block, causing emotional pleas from school board meeting attendees.

“You’re going to overcrowd schools, bus routes are going to be longer, and who will that affect?” said Lagunas. “It’ll affect the bus driver, it’ll affect the teacher, it’ll affect the students. But who won’t it affect? The board. It won’t affect you guys at all, because you’re not willing to take that pay cut!”

In December, superintendent Deanne Meadows made recommendations to close Guideway Elementary, Hallsboro and Acme Delco Middle Schools and Columbus Career and College Academy.

But those schools aren’t going down without a fight, especially Guideway.

“You have assured us as a board that you were not away of this proposal at all until December 18th,” said one attendee. “Yet you are going to vote to go through with this decision on February 3rd. That’s not even 60 days.”

Meadows says the district is losing money due to a declining enrollment rate of about 100 students per year, blaming some of that on charter schools.

Some argue her plan could make the problem worse.

“In this study, when districts sell schools, they often sell below evaluation,” said Guideway Elementary parent Brittany Lagunas. “And when they do sell, more than 40 percent of the sold, leased, or reused properties have gone to Charter Schools.”

Some also shared concerns that Guideway is the only suitable hurricane shelter in that area.

“You’re not just talking about closing a school, you’re talking about closing a lifeline at that end of the county,” said another attendee.

There will be another meeting Thursday at East Columbus High School at 6:30 p.m.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal Monday.

Click here to view the superintendent’s presentation from Tuesday night’s meeting.

Categories: Columbus, Local

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