Closing Schools in Beaufort County
Closing Schools is not the answer.
I started school in Chocowinity at Chocowinity High School. I graduated from Bath High School. Back then all the communities had their own school. I remember several families from Washington bought property in the Bath district and put up mail boxes so that they could bring their kids to our school. This was long before the Washington City and Beaufort County schools merged. People took a lot of pride in their schools and by being community based they received a lot of support.
I also remember when Pantego and Belhaven merged schools. And later Bath High School merged to form Northside High School. Aurora and Chocowinity formed Southside. And then there was Washington High School.
A Bond referendum years ago left Chocowinity wanting. Chocowinity Primary is full and using mobile home units for classes. There has been some building or remodeling in the area but not enough. Bath is at capacity and so is Washington High School.
Recently there has been some discussion about closing schools. Northside, Southside, and S.W. Snowden Elementary were named. Beaufort Ed Tech has also come out as being a target for closing. Attendance in these first three schools have dropped. We have lost 500 students in the past ten years and are projected to lose another 500 students in the next ten years.
If we close a school where are the kids going to go? As I said earlier Washington is at capacity so moving students from Southside or Northside would result in them having to build new buildings at Washington High School. That would just cost more money. We CAN NOT put them in the out dated, run down, mobile units. So what is the next answer?
We cannot move buildings, nor can we remove the Pamlico River that separates our county. We can move attendance lines but even that would be messy. Washington High School was built too close to Northside's line to start with. But there are a few students that could be moved to Northside to ease the crowding at Washington and help with the empty class rooms at Northside.
I do not want to see a child on a bus before 6:00 AM. But if we move two grades to Southside from S.W. Snowden that might be an answer. It isn't pretty but none of this is or will be. Just wait ten more years and see how bad it gets.
I thought that they were going to move some of the technical training programs to Beaufort Tech School. I has heard that the Fire Science class from Southside was one of them and possibly some career and technical education classes. Maybe Beaufort Tech could be moved to Southside. Looks like that might kill two birds with one stone.
Aurora has lost too much. Gone are the grocery stores, shops, the movie theaters, and more. Closing their school would leave almost nothing in the area. Except Nutrien. And if that leaves we are all in trouble.
Tandy Dunn is a conservative candidate for County Commissioner. He is a member of the Clarks Neck Fire and Rescue Department where he serves on the Board of Directors and as Secretary. He is also the Secretary/Treasurer for the Beaufort County Fire Association. He works for Coastal AgroBusiness as their Director of Health, Safety and Environmental Affairs.