Following months of discussions at which members of the Scotland County Board of Education contemplated scenario after scenario for school closure and student redistricting, on Monday night they got tired of the debate.
Board members unanimously voted to close Pate-Gardner and Washington Park elementary schools, and to convert Sycamore Lane into an elementary school to serve those two student populations. The latter means Laurinburg’s middle school students, next year, will attend either Carver or Spring Hill.
The scenario includes some of the original consolidation ideas proposed in January, ideas which system administrators say could save money as enrollment continues on a downward trajectory. Laurel Hill and Wagram’s middle schools are newer and more modern than Sycamore Lane, making the redirection of Laurinburg students seem sensible when viewed from a building maintenance standpoint.
Though Gibson residents are not happy about losing their hometown school and Washington Park parents have concerns of their own, the decision to convert Sycamore was arguably the least popular of the options proposed.
Parents have concerns ranging from the extra expense of driving their children to school to the inherent dangers that come with shoving some 40 kids on a moving vehicle for an hour or more. Overcrowding has also topped the list of fears — plus, it just seems silly for Laurinburg, the county seat and home to a little more than 15,000 people, to not have its own middle school. From a parent’s perspective, Laurinburg just became a lot less desirable.
Those parents now want to see measurable, quantifiable benefits to the board’s plan. If they have to sacrifice a middle school for the sake of saving money, where exactly will that money go? If it directly, positively affects a child’s education, that could soften the blow.
For that report, as well as a plan for the rest of the schools, we wait.