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School site selection process approved

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Thursday, February 7, 2019

NASHVILLE — The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education earlier this week unanimously approved the creation of a new construction site selection process as the next step toward the building of a new elementary school that will consolidate three schools in the district.

The new building, If approved, will necessitate the closing of Swift Creek Elementary School, Red Oak Elementary School and Cedar Grove Elementary School. The state has already awarded a $10 million grant for the project that will matched by county commissioners.

“We are nearing the home stretch of a very important journey for the school district,” said Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

Jefferies said the process began almost two years ago during a discussion at a board retreat.

“Due to an eight-year trend of declining enrollment, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools is confronting significant fiscal challenges, especially relating to capital funds. Several of our facilities have reached the stress point where it may be more prudent to explore a new build instead of costly temporary repairs,” Jefferies said.

Since then, the school district hosted three focus groups and three town hall meetings to discuss the need for a new school facility. At these meetings, the probability of redistricting all the schools in the district also was raised, not only because of the impact of the new school, but also because changes in state law will be requiring smaller class sizes and more classrooms. In addition, some of the schools in the district are currently over student capacity while others are underutilized.

“It was revealed to us early and because of past history, the economic and civic impact to a community of a closing school or redistricting schools often presents as difficult to assess, predict or quantify because of the emotion that can easily be attached. As a result, the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education has firmly committed to the community that they will be engaged as an essential part of the process,” Jefferies said.

The next recommended step in the process, Jefferies said, will the completion of a comprehensive land use study, comprehensive demography study and population analysis and an update of the current attendance figures at each of the area schools. This information will presented to a new ad hoc subcommittee of school board member and then to the school board for review.

At that point, Jefferies said, the school board will coordinate and facilitate a community forum to solicit input and reaction from the public before the school board makes a final decision regarding the site of the new school construction.

This process will cost between $20,000 and $30,000, which will be paid out of existing capital funds and will take about five to six months to complete, Jefferies said.

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