PSRC leaders OK for school improvement projects

LUMBERTON – The Robeson County Public Schools Education Board on Tuesday approved the continuation of several school improvements, including roof replacement, track improvements and building expansion.

School board members approved the finance and construction committees’ investment project recommendations that will replace roofs at Prospect, South Robeson Intermediate and St. Pauls elementary schools, repair the track at Fairmont High School and renovate the classrooms and offices of the Shining Stars Kindergarten in Lumberton.

Roofing projects are estimated at around $ 371,000, according to Gordon Burnette, PSRC communications director. Track improvements and preschool renovations will progress through the tendering process and the cost of the projects has yet to be determined.

“We are thrilled with The Shining Stars and to be able to grow,” said Freddie Williamson, PSRC Superintendent.

Williamson said the expansion will allow the school to serve more than 200 students.

Additionally, school board member Craig Lowry said paving work at Rex-Rennert Elementary School is scheduled to begin on November 1.

In other actions

School board members approved the offer of free COVID tests to schools in the district. The tests are expected to start on October 18.

“Testing in schools helps us quickly detect COVID-19 and reduce the risk of future spread,” said Jennifer Freeman, assistant superintendent of student services, response and support.

The program is funded by a $ 10 billion grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The PSRC is one of more than 200 school districts participating in the StrongSchoolsNC K-12 COVID-19 testing program, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Letters have been sent to principals and are to be distributed to parents regarding test registration, Burnette said.

The offer of a $ 1,500 enrollment bonus to certified teachers at RB Dean-Townsend Elementary School was also approved.

Erica Setzer, PSRC’s finance director, said school officials will meet on Friday to discuss enrollment bonuses.

“We don’t have enough funds to do it for all the staff,” she said. “What we’re looking at are these hard-to-staff areas. “

School board members Terry Locklear, Dwayne Smith and Craig Lowry have raised concerns about student learning.

Locklear said minimum standards should be discussed so that students can have a more successful experience. PSRC Superintendent Freddie Williamson said those standards have been set, but may not be enforced, which he said he plans to review at a later date.

“Our problem is we have face to face and we have virtual,” Smith said.

He suggested offering an alternative to virtual learning, which he said doesn’t work.

“Just based on data from last year, face-to-face is where we need to be,” Williamson said.

Students who learn virtually should be held responsible for not attending classes throughout the day, Lowry said.

“Someone has to suffer the consequences for not doing what you’re supposed to do,” he said.

Robert Locklear, deputy superintendent of curriculum, education and accountability, said a system of accountability is in place for all students, including those who learn virtually.

Also on Tuesday, school board members approved schools’ eligibility to participate in the National Beta Club. Some schools were previously ineligible before the district’s decision, according to Burnette. District Distinction Day will involve all schools.

School board members also approved district-wide participation in the North Carolina Association for School Activities. Some schools were previously involved in the NCASA, which hosts activities such as competitive debates and writing and visual arts contests.

“I’m all excited. I hope our teachers, superintendents and principals will take the ball and run with this,” said Linda Emanuel, school board member.

Students benefit from “healthy competition,” said Emanuel.

In addition, school board members were reminded that the school district will be hosting its annual Unity Day on October 20. Those who wish to participate are encouraged to wear orange to support unity and to deter bullying in the school system.

School board members came out of a closed session and voted to amend the staff as decided behind closed doors. No further information was provided.

Superintendent Williamson said after a closed session that a Pembroke Middle School bus was struck in the back by a vehicle on Tuesday. There were over 20 children on the bus. No injuries were reported.

A child was taken to hospital for precautionary measures but has since been released, Burnette said.

Contact Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or by email at [email protected]

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