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home : news : education November 18, 2018

New School For Eastern Lincoln County Is Coming

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Redrawing attendance lines won't suffice.  For the first time, the latest figures show that all the K-8 schools in Lincoln County are or soon will be near capacity.  With new housing developments already approved, a new elementary school somewhere in the eastern part of the county is going to become a necessity in the next 4-5 years.

That's what County Manager Kelly Atkins and Planning Director Andrew Bryant told the Board of Education at their committee meetings Tuesday evening.  Atkins noted that current repayments for previously issued school bonds are going down by about a million dollars a year, so the county should be able to build the new school in time to meet the growing need.

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The Lincoln County Schools already have two possible sites for a new school.  One of those is on highway 16-business and transportation and traffic issues may make that an unlikely location.  The other is property the schools purchased several years ago further west.  Growth in that area hasn't kept up with the southeastern corner of the county, but it's expected that future development will likely be in that direction.

Atkins said it isn't an emergency--projected overcrowding at Catawba Springs, Rock Springs and St. James schools won't occur immediately.  The new developments aren't likely to be completed until at least 2021, so there's time to make plans for the new school and have it ready when the need becomes greater.  "Now is the time to start that planning," Atkins told the School Board.

In other committee business, the Curriculum Committee approved a new school calendar for next year.  When it is confirmed at the full board meeting next week, it will mean that school will start on August 12th and run through May 28th.  

The schools have long complained that a state requirement holding them back from starting school earlier was a problem.  The first semester hasn't ended until January--meaning students take exams after the Christmas break.  That delay also keeps high schoolers from early college enrollment since the colleges begin their second semester before the high schools have finished first semester exams.

To get around that requirement, Lincoln County Schools will become titular 'year-round' schools.  To achieve that, they have to operate 12 months of the year.  That will be accomplished by putting an optional teacher workday for school year 2019-2020 the last day of July and extending teacher workdays into early June 2020.  

Some school systems have opted to have a shorter first semester and a longer second semester, but a few have already decided to try this 'end run' that is proposed for Lincoln County.  Board member Todd Wulfhorst questioned the legality of the move, saying he'd like to see real year-round operation, a growing trend in many NC counties.  Superintendent Dr. Lory Morrow confirmed when questioned by the Lincoln Herald that the School Board attorney had given his blessing to the legality of the move.  

The calendar and other items discussed by the committees won't become official until approved at the Board meeting next Tuesday.  

Tuesday's committee meetings marked the first time the Board or committees had held their meeting at the new location of the School Administration Offices--now at the old Battleground School location on Jeb Seagle Drive.

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