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EDEN — The Rockingham County Board of Education is just under two months away from deciding whether to close Draper, Dillard and/or South End Elementary School or to cut costs elsewhere to address the budget shortfall.

During the Sept. 11 board meeting, Superintendent Rodney Shotwell outlined the timeline leading up to the November decision.  

On Oct. 23, North Carolina State University’s Operations Research and Education Laboratory will present a draft transportation cost analysis to their cabinet which will look at the costs of transportation for the various possible redistricting options.  

“We spoke with them this morning and what they're waiting for right now are for the schools and for the folks working at (Transportation Information Management System) to make sure that our data is as accurate as it possibly can be,” Shotwell said at the board meeting. “They already have the boundary data and so what they're going to do is they're going to look and see the efficiencies and look at some of the routing based on their recommendations and they're going to share that with us.”

On Oct. 30, NCSU will present the information to the Board of Education during a public board meeting.

This will give the public an opportunity to review the recommendations before the board’s public hearing for redistricting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Rockingham County High School auditorium.

“This also, by having it on Nov. 9, would give each of you board members the opportunity to listen to the feedback, to go back and review the presentation that was given to you on Oct. 30 and then, when we come together for Nov. 20, we would formally make the recommendation to you all and at that time we would ask for your approval or if there are changes that you feel like need to be made, we can also entertain that at the same time,” Shotwell said.

Earlier this year, the NCSU OREd Laboratory provided research into school capacity as compared to enrollment for each school as part of the Integrated Planning for School and Community Study in Rockingham County.

The IPSAC study found that a majority of the county’s schools are underutilized, with 17 of 23 schools, not counting Rockingham Early College High School, at 80 percent capacity or less.

This data informed conversations around possibly closing Draper, Dillard and/or South End elementary schools to cut costs for the financially struggling district.

Rockingham County Schools is looking to cut about $4.2 million.

The school system expects a decrease in state funding with the decrease in student population within RCS.

According to data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, average daily membership in Rockingham County schools has gone down each year over the last several years.

The district also expects retirement and health rates to increase, putting further pressure on the school system’s budget.

The IPSAC study found that across the school system, RCS has a capacity of 16,217 students, but only 12,353 students are enrolled, meeting 76 percent of the district’s capacity.

The three elementary schools with lowest enrollment-to-capacity percentages are Dillard at 44 percent, Draper at 45 percent and Lincoln at 59 percent.

Based on the numbers presented at the May 16 board meeting, closing Draper, Dillard and South End would save RCS about $1,305,909, accounting for cut positions at those schools and the added costs of relocation.

Those savings would equal about 31 percent of the proposed $4.2 million in cuts.

For more information on OREd studies at Rockingham County Schools and redistricting options and maps, visit www.rock.k12.nc.us and click on RCS Pathway to Transparency.

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Contact Justyn Melrose at (336) 349 -4331, ext. 6140 and follow @JMelrose_RCN on Twitter.

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