Board of Education passes support for Randolph County School System growth plan

Construction of a new Liberty Elementary School and Randleman High School are the main focus of the plan

ASHEBORO – The Randolph County Schools Board of Education approved the first phase of the school system’s growth plan at its final March meeting.

“Phase one of our growth plan is really focused on facility and student assignment needs associated with our current school facilities,” superintendent Stephen Gainey said.

The two main items are the construction of a new elementary school in Liberty and high school in Randleman.

“The preference will be to build Randleman High School and Liberty Elementary at the same time,” Gainey said. “Both projects are going to be built on new sites and we don’t need those sites finished to have school at those two places because those students will be in their existing schools until we get the two new schools built.”

Other projects in phase one include the renovation of Eastern Randolph High School, Southwestern Randolph High School and Trinity High School, the demolition of Braxton Craven School, the assessment of the current attendance zones and school assignment process to identify any needed adjustments and the creation of a Student Assignment/Growth Management Department

“We need a Randleman school, we need a Liberty school, but we have to quit pushing these other traditional high schools back,” said board member Phillip Lanier. “We’ve got to make sure that when we agree to go this route, that we take care of their needs because they’ve been told, told and told and nothing’s happened.”

In other business, the board signed off on the Summer 2024 Reading Camp fee for proficient students.

“Our second and third grade students who meet a set criteria and are deemed not proficient across the district are invited to attend a summer camp for 72 hours at no charge,” explained Ashley Barr, director of elementary education. “But Senate Bill 387, which is the Excellent Public Schools Act, is written to provide opportunity for our students that are deemed proficient to attend for a fee that is set by the board of education.”

Last year, the reading camp cost a little more than $170,000, or around $500 for each of the 345 students who attended. Accordingly, Barr recommended setting the fee at $496. “That is the lowest fee to date that we’ve had and it’s considerably under the cap of $825 allowed by the state.”

The 2024-25 school calendar for Randolph Early College High School was approved, aligning the school with the Randolph Community College schedule.

“Early college programs have flexibility with their calendar guidelines that traditional schools do not,” explained Larry Chappell, director of instructional support.

Early College students will start Aug. 8, with the first semester ending Dec. 20 and the last day of school on May 21, 2025.

The board also accepted a pair of grant awards from the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for just over $3,000 split between Franklinville and Tabernacle Elementary.

“The grant will be used for the fifth grade classes to go on a trip to Camp Caraway,” Chappell said. “They’ll do outdoor science and hands-on activities. They will spend all day there and it’s an extended day.”

The RCSS Board of Education will next meet April 15.

By Ryan Henkel