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Public hearing set for school closures

Swift Creek Elementary School is one of three elementary schools that are being recommended for closure, according to a school closing study presented last week to the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education.

Red Oak Elementary School and Cedar Grove Elementary School also are under consideration for closures and consolidation as the school district moves ahead with plans to build a new, larger, state-of-the-art school in the Red Oak area. A public hearing to discuss these closures will be held tonight.

Swift Creek Elementary School, which is located at 2420 Swift Creek School Road in Whitakers, serves roughly 246 students in third to fifth grades. It is a sister school to Red Oak Elementary School, which serves students in the same attendance area in kindergarten to second grade.

“All students within the Red Oak Elementary/Swift Creek attendance zone transition to Red Oak Middle School for sixth grade,” the study said. “Red Oak Middle is the largest middle school in the district with current enrollment at 898 students for the 2019-20 school year. Students in the Red Oak Elementary/Swift Creek attendance zone not only had an added transition to a new school from second to third grade but also a transition from a very small school to an extremely large school environment when they go to middle school.”

Because of the need to upgrade or replace the school’s heating, air and sanitary filtration systems as well as other needed maintenance issues, the school district said keeping the school open will be an expensive proposition.

“In the event that Swift Creek Elementary School is not recommended for closure, renovations are required to bring the facility up to standard. These renovations would total approximately $4,087,058 in capital costs,” the study states.

According to consolidation models run by the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools Transportation Department, drive times for students should decrease if the same number of school buses are maintained.

“Models show an average ride time for students currently enrolled at Swift Creek Elementary attendance zone at 24.4 minutes and an average route distance of 12.1 miles. In this consolidation scenario, the average maximum ride length would decrease to 56.5 minutes. Closing Swift Creek Elementary School and consolidation into a new elementary school may result in shorter ride times and distance travelled for students,” the study said.

The report also indicates that students at both Swift Creek and Red Oak elementary schools will benefit by gaining better access to specialist teachers under the consolidation model.

“Students at Swift Creek do not have the benefit of a full-time academically or intellectually gifted facilitator, media specialist or art, music and physical education teachers, which results in decreased access to these specialists every day. Swift Creek’s art, music and physical education teachers are assigned to the school two days per week. The media specialist is split with Red Oak Elementary, providing each school with the media specialist 2.5 days per week. The academically or intellectually gifted facilitator is assigned to Swift Creek Elementary School three days per week,” the study said.

“Overall, students are expected to benefit academically and be afforded greater opportunity by way of additional access to enhancement and special area teachers as a result of the closing of a small elementary school and consolidation into a larger, newer facility,” the study stated.

A public hearing to discuss the closure of the three schools will be held at 6 p.m. tonight in the cafeteria of Northern Nash High School.

Tree lighting to honor loved ones

Lights of Love, an annual tradition aimed at honoring and remembering loved ones during the holiday season, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 on the front lawn of Nash UNC Health Care.

As Christmas trees are placed and decorated in the homes of Nash County residents, Nash UNC Health Care prepares a tree to be decorated with lights and ornaments that are sponsored by families who wish to honor and remember their loved ones, friends, coworkers and caregivers.

The ceremony will include the official tree lighting, reading aloud the names of those who are being honored or remembered, carols from a choir of children and grandchildren of Nash UNC employees and light refreshments.

“Lights of Love is a time-honored tradition that many residents look forward to each year,” said Kathleen Fleming, Nash UNC Health Care Foundation development officer. “This year we have decided to use a live tree to place outside the hospital for all to see, as well as the tree we normally place on the top of the hospital that can be seen for miles. Many residents have shared that it is heartwarming to see the lights on the trees as they drive by and are reminded of the people they love.”

The tree will remain displayed throughout the holiday season on the front lawn of the hospital.

Lights of Love serves as a way for the Nash UNC Health Care Foundation to not only help those who wish to honor their loved ones but also to raise money for different areas of the hospital, including the Danny Talbott Cancer Center, Nash Pediatric Emergency Department, Nash Women’s Center and numerous other projects.

To dedicate a light, ornament or have a loved one’s name read aloud at the ceremony, all donations must be made prior to Nov. 22. Donations can be made by contacting Kathleen Fleming at Kathleen.Fleming@unchealth.unc.edu or by visiting NashUNCHealthCareFoundation.org/LightsofLove.

N.C. Wesleyan approved to offer new MBA degree program

N.C. Wesleyan College has received final approval for its new Master of Business Administration program and will begin its inaugural class on Jan. 6, 2020.

The Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce offered its congratulations to the college when the decision was announced last Friday.

“Congratulations to North Carolina Wesleyan College on being fully approved by their regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, for the Master of Business Administration program,” the announcement from the Chamber of Commerce said.

According to a statement from the college, the MBA program will be offered 100 percent online. The program will consist of 33 credit hours to accommodate those seeking work or who already are working, the press release said.

The one-year program will consist of five eight-week sessions, two classes per session, and will end with a final capstone class.

The program is designed for students seeking to develop their knowledge and broaden their skills in management and leadership. The curriculum is designed to enhance students’ ability to develop and implement organizational strategies that deliver business results. The MBA degree offers rolling admission, meaning those attending can start the program throughout the year at the beginning of any new eight-week session, the statement said.

“N.C. Wesleyan College has been equipping business students to be industry leaders at the undergraduate level for over 60 years. We are taking our expertise in this subject matter to the next level. Our MBA will meet the region’s needs to having highly qualified managers and leaders at all levels of an organization,” Evan D. Duff, interim president of the college, said in the release.

N.C. Wesleyan College is the only private, nonprofit college currently offering an online MBA degree in the region, according to the college website. People who are interested in learning more about the MBA program can go to https://ncwc.edu/academics/graduate-programs/master-mba/ or contact Dani Somers, director of Adults Studies & Graduate Admissions, at dsomers@ncwc.edu.