State approves school change in Lincoln

February 08, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - The future of Kings Mountain Elementary may be a source of debate for parents in the community, but it is no longer in question at the state Department of Education.

A state hearing officer's recommendation returned a finding supporting the Lincoln County Board of Education decision to create a middle school at what is currently known as Kings Mountain Elementary.

"The hearing officer has sent the report back, and he recommended we continue with the plan as submitted," said Lincoln Superintendent Teresa Wallace. State-appointed hearing officer Timothy Lucas was present at a public hearing last month to listen to the facilities use proposals and make a recommendation.

The Kings Mountain conversion was a controversial decision made in the face of county-wide overcrowding at the current facilities. Board members and Facility Planning committee members had been at odds over the best solution, but the board eventually approved the middle school plan late last year after months of debate.


During January's public hearing, Kings Mountain's principal Ronnie Deatherage spoke in defense of the elementary and proposed two alternative options. Deatherage submitted a proposal to revamp neighboring Highland Elementary into a center for pre-schoolers.

"If we were to develop a pre-school center at the present site of Highland Elementary we could free up several rooms at each school for much needed space," wrote Deatherage. "Highland is basically the most centrally located building we have in the county ... Students would only have to be bused one time in their elementary career and then begin kindergarten in their home school."

Deatherage also proposed his school remain an elementary and the new middle school could be located in the current Highland Elementary building. Calls made to Deatherage were not immediately returned.

Highland principal Darren Yaden said he did not want to debate Deatherage's proposals, but said he trusted the board to make the best decision for the community and the 22-teacher school.

"We have a lot of great programs here," said Yaden. "We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing to keep our school one of the best in the county."

This month Highland was the recipient of a $900,000 federal reading grant. Crab Orchard Elementary was also a recipient of the federal Reading First grant, funds specifically ear-marked for materials to be used to help every child achieve grade-level reading proficiency before graduating the third grade.

Yaden was very enthusiastic about the program and future of the school.

"We're working hard. We strive for our school to be the best."

The fate of the schools will be discussed by the school board at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Central Office, where it will officially hear the state's recommendation and could bring the issue to vote. The meeting is open to the public.

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