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September 18, 2017
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LAURINBURG – Scotland County School Board members have given the administration the green light to move forward with the planning of the three phases of the school consolidation plan as originally presented.

The decision allows the staff to continue the planning the next phases of consolidation and closure, compile needed documentation, and set up required public meetings.

“It helps to know if we are going to move forward with the projects and if we are moving forward, how we are going to do it. Are we going to do both of the extensions at one time and then postpone the building of the new school” said Superintendent Ron Hargrave. “Or are we going to do one extension one year, one extension the next year and then the new school two years from now.”

The first phase of the plan was done over the summer when Washington Park and Pate Gardner closed. Students from those schools were sent to Sycamore Lane, a former middle school. Sycamore Lane students were transferred to the two existing middle schools in the county.

In the second phase with a tentative date of August 2017, students at Covington Street Elementary School would go to Sycamore Lane Elementary. Early College students would go into Covington Street.

Sycamore Lane will be renovated to accommodate the extra students and staff.

School Board member Darrel “BJ” Gibson said school officials need to update the public on the various phases.

“I think we owe it to these citizens in these communities and the parents of these students to do the same and I am not sure if we have talked about doing that, ” Gibson said.

School board member Jamie Sutherland asked Hargrave why the process is spread out over three years.

“Why wouldn’t you do both, two phases at one time then a new school?’ he said “What was the thought process?”

Hargrave said during previous discussions the board wanted to move slower.

Funding was a also major concern of the board members. How the project will be funded is not clear, but the Scotland County Board of Commissioners will have to be involved with any financial decision.

“Financially can we do all at one time?” board Chairman Dr. Jeff Byrd said, “I think that’s one thing not knowing the numbers, financially can we do it all at one time? I know building a new school has been based on consolidating the other schools.”

Sutherland also questioned with the process in three phases, will the money be available at one time, or three different times.

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