Board to release facilities assessment

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2005

WINDSOR – On November 8, the Bertie County Board of Education will release to the public the findings of a comprehensive facilities assessment of the district’s elementary and middle schools.

The report will be given by Heery International, P.C., an independent company contracted by the Board of Education to perform the assessment.

“This report will have a major impact on the future of our schools,” says Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, Superintendent of Bertie County Schools.

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The presentation will be made by 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at Bertie High School. Refreshments will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Already scheduled activities for the evening are a continuation of work begun earlier on the “Strategic Planning” process for the school system. The first meeting, a “Stakeholder’s Summit,” was held on Tuesday, October 25, and included valuable input from Bertie County citizens.

The assessment, part of a Consent Order by Judge Terrence Boyle, United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, will result in a report with recommendations addressing the lifespan of each facility; the capacity of each school to provide the programs needed for students; the economic feasibility and wisdom of renovating any facilities that are in poor condition; and strategic alternatives to the current assignment of students, including options designed to provide cost savings to the district.

The Consent Order, which was entered into in June of 2005, also redrew the attendance lines for the 2004-2005 school year which was expected to increase the enrollment of African-American students at Askewville Elementary School to 58%.

Both parties to the Consent Order, the Board of Education and the United States Department of Justice, recognize that the facilities assessment could include recommendations to consolidate student populations into a new facility, or to build new facilities.

The Board has agreed to present to the United States by January 15, 2006, a proposed Amended Student Assignment Plan for its review. This plan shall address both the recommendations contained in the facilities assessment and the facilities concerns raised by the United States regarding John P. Law Elementary School.

The parties are required to file a status report with the Court no later than March 1, 2006.

The Consent Order is the latest finding of a 38 year old civil rights case filed on June 16, 1967, in United States v. Bertie County Board of Education. The original complaint alleged that the Bertie County Board of Education had failed to take adequate measures to eliminate the dual, segregated school system as it was required to do under Brown v. Board of Education and subsequent court decisions.

Following the presentation, Bertie County citizens are highly encouraged to become involved with the school system’s Strategic Planning Process, Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart’s emphasis on forming partnerships with the community. Goal Team meetings are scheduled with school administrators and citizens to begin the actual process of developing a strategic plan for the next five years.

A complete history of the desegregation case can be found on the Bertie County School’s web site at: