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Spring Lake board hears about school reassignment plans


SPRING LAKE - Lillian Black and Manchester Elementary schools were part of the discussion Monday night at the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen meeting, where board members heard about a realignment plan to move students to W.T. Brown.

Charles McKellar, an at-large member of the Cumberland County Board of Education, addressed the board and urged support for the reassignment of T.C. Berrien Elementary School students to W.T. Brown permanently and for closing Lillian Black, which is Spring Lake’s oldest and most historic school.

W.T. Brown Elementary, once year-round and a school of choice, has seen its enrollment decline over the last 10 years. The building has a capacity for 665 students; however, student enrollment is currently at 207. Cumberland County Schools has proposed several reassignment plans for W.T. Brown and Lillian Black elementary schools.

McKellar asked the board to support the plan that would close Lillian Black, reassigning its 175 students and moving 78 students from the southern most portion of Manchester Elementary for a total of 460 seats next fall at W.T. Brown. Manchester Elementary has a capacity for 386 students and has 359 enrolled. If that plan were adopted, it would reduce the number of students to 281. There are 178 students at T.C. Berrien currently attending W.T. Brown.

  “The school board will ask for community response. This is a solution for T.C. Berrien and W.T. Brown, not part of an overall master plan for schools,” McKellar said.

 The board also heard presentations from Fayetteville Technical Community College and Accela Solutions.

 Mark Sorrells, senior vice president for academic and student services at FTCC, introduced Project HOPE (Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity through Education), an adult learning initiative to provide training programs and certifications to the Spring Lake area. FTCC is one of five community colleges in North Carolina working to attract more adults back to college through the support of the John M. Belk endowment and myFutureNC.

 A survey will be made available on the FTCC website to determine the types of training programs of interest to Spring Lake residents. According to Sorrells, landscaping and horticulture, collision repair, early childhood and computer data entry were programs already identified for Spring Lake. Options on the survey also include carpentry, masonry, HVAC, plumbing, basic construction and apartment maintenance. 

 Pine Forest High School is being considered to host the classes. Sorrells said Fayetteville Tech’s Spring Lake campus is overloaded with students from all over the country for its  paramedic program. He said FTCC has a similar program with Hope Mills and South View High School.

Accela Solutions provides municipalities an online platform for applications such as plan reviews, zone variance requests and service requests. Mayor Kia Anthony asked if the company could be put in touch with local communities using the service through American Rescue Plan Act funding.

No action was taken at the meeting other than to approve a resolution to endorse the Fort Bragg Land Use Advisory Commission bylaw amendments.

The board also discussed open seats for town committees. Spring Lake residents may join one of six committees, including the Board of Adjustment, the Minimum Housing Appeals board, the Community Appearance Commission, the Military and Veterans Affairs Advisory committee, the Recreation Advisory committee and the Senior Enrichment Program Advisory committee. The Military and Veterans Affairs Advisory committee has seven vacancies for nine seats, and the Minimum Housing Appeals board has all seats open.

Alderman Marvin Lackman asked residents to apply for the openings through the town website.

“In order to make this town better, it takes involvement,” Lackman said.

Alderwoman Sona Cooper asked that board members be appointed as committee liaisons.

The board met in closed session for two and half hours citing N.C. general statutes for personnel, attorney-client privilege and economic development. Michael Gibson, director of Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation, joined the board in closed session. The board took no action following its closed session.

Jami McLaughlin covers Spring Lake for CityView TODAY. She can be reached at jmclaughlin@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Spring Lake, school realignment