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Lenoir County Schools considering move to K-8 schools

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KINSTON, N.C. - Lenoir County students could attend K-8 schools in the future.
   
On Monday, at the monthly school board meeting, Superintendent Steve Mazingo, presented several ideas for improving the counties education system. One of ideas is to move all elementary schools and middle schools to K-8.

"Really ran into that as an idea that has worked in a lot of places and has some research base behind it now, and would solve some of the problems that we are looking at especially in terms of achievement issues between fifth and six grade," said Mazingo.

For parents like Donna Vincent, they feel the move made do more harm than good; especially, when younger kids are interacting with older children.

"We're worried about bullying; we're worried about the violent attacks that can occur on campus as well as busing issues. There are more unanswered question, then answered school," said Vincent.

On Monday, Mazingo hoped to answer some of the parents concerns with the task force presentation. Mazingo insist this idea of K-8 is just that, an idea. He planned to have parent forums later this fall to gets parents input on this and other ideas the task force came up with.

Not all parents were opposed to the K-8 idea. Jessica Powell's son already attends the systems only K-8 school, Contentnea-Savannah, and says while K-8 was forced on them it is working. Powell says understands other parents concerns, and urged the board to make sure all parents are included in future discussion, so parents don't feel like they are being left out.

“I’m not for shutting this idea down. Anything that will improve our children’s education, I’m all for it. [But] It doesn't matter which side of the fence you're on we do want what's best. So, I'm asking you all to please do not close the line of communication. Let’s try to keep all of this open,” said Powell.
 
Some of those other ideas on the task force recommendation: creating theme schools, giving parents more school choice, creating high school academies, and digital conversion.

Theme schools were also a hot topic at Monday's board meeting. Parents of elementary-age children felt the theme schools should start at the high school level.

“There are still a lot of high school and even college students that are unsure of what they want to do beyond high school; and, I can’t imagine making this decision for my elementary-aged child,” said one concerned parent.

"We don't know if we start in a school, if we can change later, or we find their interest vary, or things aren't working out," said Vincent.

After Monday’s presentation, the board made a recommendation that the task force go back and come with more specifics like cost and logistics to see if implementing some of the changes is even possible. At that point, parents and the public would be able to participate in public forums to ask questions, concerns, and even give their own input on improvement ideas. 






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