Revised on: 08.6.2018 at 10:06 p.m.
Posted on: 08.6.2018 at 07:44 p.m.
By Justin Smith, editor, and Diana Matthews, staff writer
The Columbus County school board, in an effort to help ease the district’s significant budget woes, voted 3-1 Monday night to close Chadbourn Middle School for the 2018-19 school year, which begins for students in three weeks. Instead, the students will attend Evergreen Elementary School when classes start on August 27.
Enrollment at CMS dipped to fewer than 100 students during the 2017-2018 school year.
Several dozen community members attended, and six spoke against the closing during the meeting’s public comment period. Some suggested closing EES and moving its students to CMS. Others recommended consolidating CMS with the nearby Chadbourn Elementary School.
Board chairman Barbara Yates-Lockamy said that those were among the options the board had looked at. “We considered all options,” she told reporters later.
As he made the move to close CMS, board vice-chairman Worley T. Edwards thanked the speakers for their contributions to the discussion.
“It’s with a heavy, heavy heart that I have to make the motion that we, as the Columbus County Board of Education, move the students at Chadbourn Middle School to Evergreen Middle School for the school year 2018-2019.”
Monte Herring seconded the motion, also “with a heavy heart.
“We have been mandated, really, by our county commissioners,” he said. “I was
hoping we could wait until we had a new facility to put the children in, but, you know, we really don’t have an option anymore.”
As part of the move, the board vowed to formulate a plan by the end of the upcoming school year to consolidate Acme Delco Middle School and Hallsboro Middle School at a later date. Monte Herring specified that the board should consider moving those middle school students to East Columbus High School, which has empty classrooms.
Board member Randy Coleman cast the lone no vote. Coleman said that closing CMS was the “best decision” the board could make under the circumstances, and he said that similar consolidation would have to happen soon in the eastern end of the county.
Coleman disagreed, however, with the idea of sending middle school students to a high school campus. “A 12-year-old doesn’t belong in the same school with an 18-year-old,” he said in an interview after the vote. Coleman said that creating K-8 schools was the better option.
See Friday’s edition of The News Reporter for additional details.