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Merger consultant picked; team includes former state superintendent

Revised on: 07.17.2018 at 10:45 a.m.

Posted on: 06.26.2018 at 07:46 a.m.

An ad hoc committee of the county and city school boards and county commissioners met briefly Monday to unanimously select a firm originally recommended by the superintendents of the county and city school systems to conduct a study on whether a merger of the two school systems should occur.

In addition to being the lowest bidder among three firms submitting proposals and in addition to being recommended by county Supt. Alan Faulk and city Supt. Kenny Garland, Raleigh-based Emerald Education also includes on its team former state Supt. of Public Instruction June Atkinson, who will be involved in conducting the study.

Emerald’s bid of $19,500 was significantly less than a $75,500 proposal from Evergreen Solutions of Tallahassee, Fl. and a $119,000 bid from School Efficiency Consultants of Raleigh, Charlotte and Lexington.

Because the county government will pay for the study, the committee’s recommendation will be considered by Columbus County commissioners at their meeting Monday. If, as expected, commissioners approve the selection, the ad hoc committee will schedule another meeting in Whiteville with representatives of Emerald Education before a contract for the study is formally signed.

Emerald Education indicated in their proposal that they could complete the study in three months. Evergreen Solutions estimated 120 days for completion of the study and School Efficiency Consultants did not specify a timeframe in their proposal.

Nine firms and individuals were asked by the ad hoc committee to submit proposals. One of them, former Columbus County Supt. of Schools Dan Strickland, declined to be considered to conduct the study and five did not respond to the committee’s invitation.

County commissioners created the ad hoc committee at the suggestion of Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Columbus, and Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, who told commissioners that a decision on merger rests with the commissioners, not the legislature. The committee is composed of three members each of the city and county boards of education and two county commissioners.

Representing the county schools on the committee are Barbara S. Yates-Lockamy, Randy Coleman and Monte Herring. City school board members on the committee are Coleman Barbour, Kandle Rogers and Greg Merritt. Also sitting on the committee are county commissioners Amon McKenzie and Ricky Bullard. Herring is the group’s chairman and Barbour serves as vice chair.

See additional details in Friday’s print edition of The News Reporter.

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