LINCOLNTON – Growth in the eastern side of the county continued to be a major topic of discussion at the Lincoln County Schools Board of Education committee meeting Tuesday, Dec. 4.
At last month’s committee meeting, County Manager Kelly Atkins and Planning and Inspections Director Andrew Bryant presented a report on eastern growth and its future impact on schools. Several of the schools on the eastern side of the county are at or near capacity. Catawba Springs Elementary is the greatest challenge because officials can’t add additional classrooms without going to floating classrooms, which associate superintendent Dr. Aaron Allen said was not ideal.
“Due to constraints on the campus, no more classrooms can be added,” he told the board. “St. James and Rock Springs still have room to grow. Iron Station is almost at capacity with just one classroom left, but because of the special programs that are housed there, that creates a false illusion because the classes can only hold 10 or 12 kids instead of the 20 to 28 kids that we have in other classrooms.”
Allen added that East Lincoln middle and high school’s capacity were not a concern right now, but down the road, given the projects that were shared by Atkins and Bryant, both schools will be pushed to at or above capacity. The challenge here would not so much be with classrooms but common areas like the cafeteria, recreational spaces, parking lots, driveways and traffic patterns.
“We’ve talked about it over the years, but now that we’re seeing homes built for the first time in many years, St. James is a good example with the communities being constructed right across the street,” Allen said in an interview after the meeting. “We’ve got to plan for it.”
The possible options the board members looked at Tuesday night were to use the land they already own to build a new school or explore other options such as adding on to the buildings that they can at existing campuses. Redistricting was discussed, but Allen said while they were looking at redrawing lines and shifting students, given the community clusters that are present in eastern Lincoln County, this could be problematic and not a long-term solution to the problem.
A joint meeting between Atkins, Bryant and board members will be scheduled for the February committee meeting to further hash out this issue.
Testing gets change
Also at the meeting, Dr. Rhonda Hager updated the board on EOG and EOC tests. They will be administered for the first time pursuant to the new mathematics North Carolina Standard Course of Study and Extended Content Standards adopted by the State Board of Education in 2016 and 2017 during the 2018-19 school year.