Scotland County Board of Education fails to find new school site

LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Schools Board of Education is going back to the drawing board on selecting a location for county’s proposed new elementary school.

The board reconvened and went straight into closed session on Thursday to conclude its recessed Committee of the Whole meeting. After an hour in closed session the board came back and announced without any discussion they would not be taking any action.

It was assumed that after almost three hours in closed session this week that the board would announce the location of the proposed elementary school, but according to board Chairman Dr. Jeff Byrd, members couldn’t come to an agreement.

“We’ve had a couple of spots we were hoping to make a decision, the board still cannot agree on the ideal location,” Byrd told WLNC. “We’ve instructed the administration to keep looking for an ideal property so that way we can have a school that is ideal for all kids.”

The site selection committee, made up of school board vice chair B.J. Gibson, county commissioner Guy McCook, one parent from South Scotland Elementary School and I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School and several community members, looked at six locations before bringing their top three choices to the board for consideration in December.

The committee used a rubric to grade the sites from one to 10, which had to be at least 20 acres to house the new elementary school and parking lot, in their rankings the committee also kept in mind priorities they deemed important in a new school location.

No details have been made public about the exact locations of the sites, but the board of education said it had the sites narrowed down to three, with two of the sites located outside the city limits.

“When you look at the sites that are ideal for a school that doesn’t mean they are for sale or when you start looking at different details, whether it’s a gun range or sewage systems on the lands you can build on you strike those off the list,” said Byrd. “Hopefully over the next couple months our administration will continue to look at properties and we’ll find the right spot to move forward with this plan.”

Superintendent Dr. Ron Hargrave was unsure on Thursday if the site selection committee would have to reconvene for another search.

Building the new elementary school is part of the second phase of the consolidation plan, which includes the closing of North Laurinburg, I. Ellis Johnson, and South Scotland elementary schools while adding classrooms to Sycamore Lane, Laurel Hill and Wagram elementary schools.

The estimated cost for Phase II is $35 million — the cost to purchase the land for the new school is not included in that $35 million price tag or additional technology for the new school.

Larry Johnson, assistant superintendent of auxiliary services, presented a timeline to the board in October that listed having the new elementary school build and the classrooms added to the existing schools by Aug. 2018.

There has been no word if the timeline will need to be altered since in the board can’t agree on a location for the new elementary school.

Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.


By Amber Hatten


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