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Residents plan to ‘fight’ school consolidation

By Staff
Rally tonight to aid Bear Grass, Jamesville schools
By DAN PARSONS
Staff Writer
The Martin County Board of Education is on track to consolidate the county’s four high schools into two, but a group of concerned parents and residents plan to fight that decision.
At it’s regular meeting Dec. 3, the board voted to examine the option of having only two high schools in the county. The county currently has four high schools, Bear Grass, Jamesville, Roanoke and Williamston. The proposed consolidation would move students attending Bear Grass to Roanoke High School in Robersonville. It would also send students at Jamesville to Williamston. Seventh and eighth graders at Bear Grass would move to Roanoke Middle School. Middle school students in Jamesville would remain there until a middle school is built in Williamston, according to Phil Hodges, who is heading the coalition to oppose consolidation.
Hodges said the Bear Grass move would affect 268 students in grades seven through 12.
Countering the school board’s vote, Concerned Parents and Citizens of Bear Grass and Jamesville are rallying tonight to inform the public of the negative effects closing Bear Grass and Jamesville high schools would have on those communities. The rally will start at 7 p.m. at the Sen. Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center.
Beck attended Bear Grass High School, where her father taught until retirement. She said the community school was one of the reasons she and her husband moved back to the town. She said the board of education has been trying to close the schools for more than 40 years, this time on the basis of the buildings not being safe for students.
The school board cannot make the decision to consolidate the schools until it holds a public hearing on the issue, which Hodges said is expected to be set at the school board’s January meeting.
Hodges has two children currently attending Bear Grass High School. Though Bear Grass is predominantly white while Roanoke is predominantly black, Hodges said the issue is not a racial one.
Hodges will speak tonight at the rally which he said was designed to “get checks flying to pay for legal services.”