Commissioner is pushing school merger
The Columbus County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night instructed County Manager Bill Clark and County Attorney Mike Stephens to contact counties similar in size and population to Columbus that have merged school systems to determine whether the merger was something they would do again.
Clark and Stephens will ask officials in those counties, which they’ll have to identify through research with the UNC School of Government and other resources, what the costs and benefits of their merger experiences were, and if they would do it again, given their experiences.
A report will be given to commissioners after that survey is completed.
The 6-1 decision to seek input from other counties came after Stephens updated the board on research he did regarding legal requirements and procedures should officials decide to merge the Whiteville and Columbus County school systems.
Superintendent Kenny Garland, board chairman Coleman Barbour and vice chairman Carlton Prince of the Whiteville school board were in the audience but did not speak.
The decision to conduct the survey came after Stephens, in response to a request at an earlier meeting by Commissioner Ricky Bullard, updated the board on procedures required to merge city and county school systems. Bullard is the only commissioner thus far to speak publicly in favor of the merger, and has been vocal in his advocacy of such a move. Although no other commissioners have taken a position in public, sources on the commission who would not speak for attribution have said that three of the seven current county commissioners favor merging.
See the rest of the story in today’s News Reporter