Tempers flare during Martin Co. Board of Ed meeting

ROBERSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) - Tempers flared during Tuesday's Martin County Board of Education meeting as parents were able to weigh in on the county's plan to consolidate schools.

Martin County Schools Superintendent Chris Mansfield said declining student population is to blame for the need to consolidate. He said the board had debated several plans and had a study done, and believed they had come up with a solution.

"One high school, one middle school, and six feeder elementary schools," he said.

To start that process, the board was proposing to close South Creek Middle School, and move East End Elementary School into the building. However, that move was met with a lot of opposition.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Jim Lee, a teacher at South Creek who was concerned about moving 6th graders into a different school.

Other parents questioned whether or not things were so bad that these types of moves were actually needed. With the high school likely to be located at Riverside in Williamston, parents said kids would have to be on buses for longer, yet still be expected to perform at high levels.

However, what angered parents the most was the board's decision not to answer any questions.

"I didn't think Martin County Board of School or anything would be like this," said Loretta Hudson. "We deserve answers, and you need to give us answers about this. These are our children."

Mansfield said the purpose of the meeting was solely to hear from the community about what they thought of the move. He said that is why they wouldn't be answering questions. While he understood some of the parent's concerns, he thinks the move would be beneficial for students.

"If we can take and better use our facilities and move East End Elementary School into a more modern facility, then that actually helps those children in that building," Mansfield said.

Parents were also concerned about an increase in bullying with more kids in school with a wider age range. The board has not decided whether to move forward with the plan, and also didn't know whether they would have another meeting to address parent's questions.

Last year, Martin County closed Jamesville Middle School due to low enrollment. Back in 2010, the board went from four high schools to two, amid a lot of opposition from parents.

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