Lincoln school board turns down state-recommended facilities plan

February 13, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - The moment for a final decision on Kings Mountain Elementary School came and passed at Thursday night's school board meeting without a critical vote in favor of the state-recommended facilities plan.

As it now stands, the plan slated to alleviate elementary school overcrowding has not been given approval by the board, was never approved by many Kings Mountain parents, and has left officials at a loss for what comes next.

Thursday's vote by school board members against the facilities plan followed months of dialogue and contradicting recommendations between the board and the facilities planning committee. The committee recommended Kings Mountain Elementary, with the lowest attendance countywide, be converted into a middle school to help alleviate the crowded Stanford and Hustonville elementaries. The board recommended redistricting or constructing additions on the crowded schools before voting in favor of a new middle school late last year.

After the state's recommendation supporting the middle school was returned to the board office last week, members appeared ready to vote in favor of the recommended plan. Before a vote was called, several concerned parents in the packed room were given the floor by board member David Hacker.


New chairman Jim Kelly and member Mike Taylor protested against citizen's comments, saying their opportunity to speak had been given more than once during the multiple meetings and public hearings.

"I really feel like we've had those opportunities..." said Kelly. Taylor agreed that the time for discussion had passed, and it was time to make a definite decision.

One mother said the school board hadn't thought this decision through and asked them to do more research before voting.

"A lot of things I've asked haven't been looked into, and have you really looked into this enough to make this big of a decision?" asked Teresa Gilpin.

Hacker said those concerns should have been voiced much earlier, but he appreciated hearing them now.

Hacker recommended redistricting to help the overcrowded Stanford and Hustonville elementaries. He said that, after further research, he believed converting Kings Mountain into a middle school was not necessarily the best plan.

Motion made to send facilities plan back to planning committee

"When I had the choice of two things to do, I thought this was the best one, but since then I've been educated." Hacker soon after made the motion to send the plan back to the planning committee and take no action as a board.

Kelly questioned board attorney Jim Williams and Superintendent Teresa Wallace about what would happen in the case of a plan refusal by the board.

"I don't know what would happen if they voted it down; nobody's ever done that," said Wallace.

Former chairman Tom Blankenship then seconded the motion, which was also approved by David Hacker and Mike Taylor. Randy McGuffy and Jim Kelly dissented.

McGuffy was noticeably concerned with the refusal of the state's recommendation and parents' comments. "I'm the last person who wants to close the school and put a padlock on it, and as I've told the people who have called me, I support this plan for one reason, because it keeps the school open."

Soon after the vote was taken, McGuffy resigned from the facilities planning committee.

"I don't feel like donating any more time, after the way it's been done," said McGuffy.

The empty seat at the planning committee has now become one of several board concerns. The state could now take the facilities plan out of the board's hands.

Wallace could not advise the board on what action the state would take at the negative vote, but some members predicted the worst.

"If we vote it down tonight, we'll probably never see it again. The state will make the decision for us," said Kelly.

"We hope that whatever decision we make, we can look back in five years and say it was the right one."

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