EDEN — Rockingham County Schools asked and more than 100 people weighed in on the proposed one-school-one-calendar solution to the merger of Dillard Elementary School and New Vision School of Science, Math and Technology

The survey followed the district’s Feb. 19 parent meeting in which Superintendent Rodney Shotwell and educators from both schools outlined the compromise, a hybrid calendar that aims to provide the best of a traditional and year-round calendar.                                        

As of 8 a.m. on Feb. 23, the school system received 110 responses combined from print and online surveys.

In their answers, respondents laid out the issues they’d like to see RCS focus on.  

“Folks were concerned about the one access in, one access out,” Shotwell said. “We did have somebody just give me kind of a rough estimate, if this is a doable project, to have a secondary entrance for emergency vehicles to be able to come though the backside of Western Rockingham.”

According to Shotwell, there is already a path connecting the Dillard campus with Western Rockingham Middle School used by maintenance staff. The path is currently designed to accommodate trucks, but not fire trucks or other large emergency vehicles.

The school district is still researching the possibility of making that a more viable path for emergency vehicles.

Many parents previously expressed concern that the school might lose Title I funds.

While New Vision is not currently a recipient of Title I funds, officials have announced that the merged school will qualify.

“We are going to change our bands of poverty to a certain degree because there are students who need some Title I services that have traditionally been at New Vision, Bethany and Wentworth, but they haven't qualified,” Shotwell said. “The feds have a minimum amount and we have one here for us, and so what we have decided to pursue are the three bands of poverty.”

Other respondents expressed a desire for more outdoor educational opportunities, more enrichment and tutoring, more school funding and a stronger emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Concerns also arose over traffic at the school, security, maintaining/improving New Vision’s “B” grade status as a school, keeping the teachers they know and love and the Dillard parking lot.

“We've only lost two cars this year,” Shotwell said. “If you've never been in that parking lot, it’s hard to understand that joke. It's going to be Operation Pothole 2018.”

The survey also solicited names for the merged school.

Some respondents like the ring of “of Math, Science and Technology,” but recommended changing “New Vision School” to New Dillard, New Madison, M & M School or Dillard’s Vision.

Other proposed a more traditional Western Rockingham or Madison-Mayodan Elementary School.

As an entirely new option, some floated the idea of Madison, Rockingham County or Dillard STEAM Academy.

“One of the ones that keep popping out, we're not going to use it,” Shotwell said. “I just thought it was just really interesting that it makes it sound like one of those really nice tasting, sparkling water drinks: New Fusion.”

The superintendent added that the John W. Dillard name honors a man who spent more than 40 years in the Western Rockingham County school system.   

“I think there's a way where we can pay homage to the past but we can still have a name that looks towards the future,” Shotwell said.

The school board heard the first reading of the traditional and year-round calendars at their Feb. 12 meeting and gave approval to proceed, but the superintendent intends to recommend changing course.

The recommendation would have the board replace the proposed year-round calendar presented in Feb. 12 with the hybrid calendar presented on Feb. 23.

“If you all approve that calendar, then we have one school, one calendar, and that would be it,” Shotwell said. “Then we could move forward and start planning for the next school year. 

Some members of board voiced support after hearing the hybrid calendar proposal from New Vision Kindergarten Teacher Karen Belton, Dillard First Grade Teacher Susan Knight, New Vision Instructional Coach Tina Whitten and Dillard Physical Education Teacher Teri Schlosser.

“I'm going to support you,” said Board Member Virginia Hoover. “I'm going to support you with your excitement and everything else. I know it’s going to be a challenge to carry over to everyone, but I hope, as leaders, that will be the banner that you will be carrying and that will enhance our children.”

Board Member Ron Price said, “I can imagine being in that room while you were all discussing this, the collaboration and the excitement because you knew how it was going to work and you were putting it together right there, so thank you very much because you have done an exemplary job.”

Board Member Ophelia Wright added, “We would love to see exactly what you presented to us tonight and we'll hold you to it.”

Board Vice Chair Bob Wyatt, who facilitated the meeting in the chair’s absence, was the last to speak.

“I think it'll work,” Wyatt said. “I think you have made the effort that's required. I appreciate it.” 

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

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