School consolidation scrutinized


Staff Writer

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Select members of the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education and the Nash County Board of Commissioners met Wednesday to discuss the need for consolidating several elementary schools into one new facility.

Brian Miller, chief of staff at Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, shared with board members and commissioners a presentation that was viewed by participants in three different forums in the areas served by Red Oak, Cedar Grove and Swift Creek elementary schools. The school board is considering closing these schools and having students attend a new, larger state-of the art elementary school that likely will find a home in the Red Oak area.

According to the information presented at the meeting, each of these schools has reached a point in the aging process where repairs and needed upgrades would be too costly to consider.

“The life of these buildings has already exceeded expectation and it would not be cost effective to repair them or to bring them in compliance with current codes,” said Shannon Davis, director of maintenance for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

The student population at each of the schools has dropped in recent years as well, making consolidation seem a sensible solution.

Red Oak Elementary, whose main building was constructed in 1932, has a capacity of 335 students but had about 245 students attending at the end of the school year, Miller said.

Swift Creek Elementary, which was built in 1949, has a capacity of 475 students but had 280 students attending. Cedar Grove, built in 1953, almost meets its capacity with 215 students attending the school that has a capacity of 223. 

The total number of student attending the three schools last year was about 740. School board members are considering constructing a new facility that would hold roughly 800 students.

Davis said the new school would require at least 17 or 18 acres to meet state Department of Public Instruction guidelines. Though no decision has yet been made as to the site of the proposed school, Miller did say that the current Red Oak campus, which includes Red Oak Elementary and Red Oak Middle schools, is large enough to allow for construction of the new facility, and that is one option the school board is considering.

No firm decisions have been made about the new facility. Miller said the next step will be a series of town hall meetings on the issue. These meetings, which will be used to gain input from the public about the possible consolidation, will be scheduled on Aug. 6 when the school board next meets and will be announced at that time.