Vance County To Consider Merging Public Middle and High Schools

The Vance County Board of Education at its January 8 meeting directed Superintendent Anthony Jackson and school system staff members to seek community input on a potential facilities consolidation plan that would impact current Vance County middle and high schools.

Jackson provided information at the board meeting outlining a process to gather input on the feasibility of consolidating middle and high schools. The proposal includes the possibility of consolidating Henderson and Eaton-Johnson Middle Schools for the 2018-2019 school year. It further proposes the possibility of consolidating Northern Vance and Southern Vance High Schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

Jackson stressed that the consolidation proposal is the result of several years of declining student enrollment across the district and the need to improve the efficient and financial sustainability of school operations.

The matter was brought to the full board following a recommendation from the board’s Building and Grounds Committee with a motion from the Committee’s Chair Mrs. Ruth Hartness to begin the process of gathering input from the local community.

Several public meetings to discuss the proposal are scheduled. The meetings include: January 25 at 10 a.m. in the school system’s Administrative Services Center; January 25 at 6 p.m. at Henderson Middle School; January 29 at 6 p.m. at Eaton-Johnson Middle School; January 30 at 10 a.m. in the Administrative Services Center; January 30 at 6 p.m. at Northern Vance High School; and February 8 at 6 p.m. at Southern Vance High School. There also will be a meeting on January 17 with principals at a time and location to be determined as well as meetings with middle and high school faculties.

Included in the report to the board, it was noted that enrollment in Vance County Schools has declined from 6,848 students in 2012-2013 to 5,980 students in the current school year.  The consolidation proposal seeks to improve and enhance services and programs for students.

At the direction of the board, the proposal should not impact any of the district’s 10 elementary schools.

Initial projections indicate that by consolidating the two middle schools on one campus, the district could save an estimated $1 million annually.  One consolidated middle school would serve approximately 835 students.

A consolidated high school could see estimated savings of approximately $1.4 million each year. One high school would serve approximately 1,500 students.

The consolidation proposal projects a reduction of approximately 19 positions at the middle school level and 25 positions at the high school level, plus operational and monthly cost for facilities no longer needed.

The community engagement process will involve the public meetings to gather input from all stakeholders in the community through February. The staff will compile this information and bring a final report with recommendations to the board for its review in March.

It is important to recognize that all savings realized by these proposals will be redirected back into the consolidated schools to support our students and staff and to improve program offerings.

It is important that the staff receive ample input from the community, so that they might be able to make the best recommendation to the board in March.  The Board reiterates that no final decisions have been made. They need to hear from the community to ensure that the plan has the necessary support for success moving forward.

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