LUMBERTON — Robeson County’s newly appointed schools superintendent won her first major battle with the district’s school board on Tuesday.
Shanita Wooten, who served as the interim superintendent after the firing of Tommy Lowry in January, had been instructed upon her recent promotion to do whatever she feels necessary to move the school system forward.
During Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the board, however, she ran into opposition when she proposed as part of her reorganization plan to hire an executive director of curriculum instruction and accountability, a schools transformations director and a science supervisor. Two of the new employees will spend four days out in the schools and one day in the central office. The transformation director will spend 80 percent of his or her time in the schools and 20 percent in the central office.
Concerns were raised that financial resources would be spent on personnel who would not directly impact student instruction. Wooten said she spoke with principals, teachers and central office staff and they all said the three new positions would benefit the district.
The board eventually approved hiring the three personnel on a 9-2 vote. Loistine DeFreece and Brenda Fairley-Ferebee voted against the hiring proposal.
Wooten said she was surprised the two board members opposed her recommendation.
“I was told by the board to reorganize and do what I think is needed,” Wooten said. “The board members all said they would support me.”
In other business, the school board heard a presentation from Eric Hall, superintendent of the newly established North Carolina Innovative School District.
Robeson County has five schools on a list of 48 schools from 21 school districts that are being considered to become the first schools to participate in the state initiative starting in the 2018-19 school year. The five schools are Orrum Middle, R.B. Dean Elementary, Rosenwald Elementary, Southside/Ashpole Elementary and Townsend Middle.
Hall outlined the eligibility requirements to become schools that will be operated similar to charter schools under a contract between a charter management or education management organization. Those schools that are being considered for inclusion are all low-performing schools.
Selected schools will not be under the jurisdiction of the Public Schools of Robeson County, Hall said. Unlike a charter school students would not be selected. They would be students who normally would attend the school.
Hall said that all existing staff would be considered to maintain their positions. They would have to apply and be interviewed, and each applicant would be considered on an individual basis.
A review of all 48 eligible schools is now under way, with a list of five or more schools to be submitted to the state Board of Education for approval. That list will be whittled down to two schools by the end of the year, he said.
The board also:
— Approved a request from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to obtain a 1.3-acre tract of land owned by the school district that currently is being used as a parking lot behind CIS Academy and Adjacent to Shining Stars Preschool. The university wants to buy the property in order to potentially re-establish a main entrance to West Hall.
The university recently received $10 million to be used for renovating West Hall.
— Approved construction of a press box for Lumberton High School softball field.
Bob shiles can bbe reached at 910-461-5165,