Schools to help pay for study
by Kelly Mayo Staff writer
LUMBERTON — The Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County voted 5 to 4 on Tuesday to pay for half the cost of a feasibility study for a technology high school in Robeson County, an expected bill of about $15,000.
The Robeson County Board of Commissioners agreed on Monday to pay half the estimated $30,000 cost of hiring a financial analyst and attorney to determine if the county can afford to construct the technology school.
Chairwoman Loistine DeFreece, Gary Srickland, John Campbell, Mike Smith and Brenda Fairley-Ferebee voted in favor, and Bosco Locklear, Randy Lawson, Dwayne Smith and Steve Martin voted against. Severeo Kerns and Jo Ann Chavis-Lowery were absent from the meeting.
Martin said the money would be better spent on improving current schools, while Lawson said the study will be a waste of money if the county can’t afford for the technology school.
“You’re still taking $15,000 of the Public Schools of Robeson County’s money to do a study when the money comes from taxpayers,” Lawson said. “The county commissioners have already said they don’t have $40 million to build the school.”
Lawson expressed concern about how the county would find money for the school, which has been projected to cost as much as $44 million. The most likely options, should the commissioners agree the school is needed, would be an increase to the local sales tax or bump the property tax rate of 77 cents for every $100 of property.
“Those I know can’t afford more property taxes,” Lawson said. “We’re maxed out.”
Fairley-Ferebee said the study will include funding options.
“We don’t know unless the study is done,” she said.
In other business, the board:
— Approved 2013-14 school improvement plans for all 42 Robeson County public schools.
— Presented Aquila Deese, a 10th-grade student at South Robeson High, a plaque recognizing her submission to a state art exhibit at the Department of Public Instruction building in Raleigh.
— Recognized Peggy Britt as Bus Driver of the Month.
— Awarded Robert Locklear, principal of St. Pauls Elementary, the Fall Beautification Award. Students and staff planted bushes, repaired stained and chipped floors and repainted doors as part of a beautification project.
— Recognized Eugene Chavis, the school system’s bookroom manager, as Classified Employee of the Month.
— Recognized Carla Deese, a math teacher at the Robeson County Early College High School, as Certified Employee of the Month.
— Approved 2013-14 fundraising plans for 20 Robeson County schools.
— Heard a report from Assistant Superintendent Linda Emanuel, who said the school system received a $2 million grant from the state to enhance physical education programs with the purchase of new equipment.
— Approved a five-year, $55,000 printing contract with Fayetteville-based Systel Business Equipment.
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