ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WMBF) - South Robeson High School will now remain open after a six to five vote from Robeson County school board members Tuesday night.
However, four other schools involved in the consolidation plan are still set to close: Rowland Middle to be merged with South Robeson High School, Janie C. Hargrave Elementary to be merged with W.H. Knuckles Elementary, Green Grove Elementary and R.B. Dean Elementary.
Brenda Fairley-Ferebee, the school board member who represents the Rowland, Maxton and Fairmont areas, said she made the motion for the high school to remain open for a couple of reasons.
“We were never given evidence of the distance, how far they would have to travel nor were we given a safety plan,” Fairley-Ferebee said.
Safety was a main concern among the students with having to attend rival schools.
“When a student becomes very emotional, they go into jitters and have to start seeing doctors... that’s what touches me,” the school board member said.
People in the Rowland community said it’s a huge relief to keep their high school.
“Took a lot of burden off of people’s shoulders knowing we were going to stay open,” former student Vantazia Campbell said.
But, Campbell said she’s even happier for her little sister, an upcoming freshman, who was devastated over the possible closure.
“She came crying to us, telling us she didn’t want to go to any other schools, so I mean she was hurt and we were hurt too,” Campbell said.
However, for parents like Natalie Harper, whose son receives an individualized education program at Hargrave Elementary, they will have to leave a school he’s thrived in.
“Having new teachers and administrators in Knuckles might set him back… might have a disadvantage for him,” the mother said.
A petition, created by parents to save the school, has received nearly 400 signatures so far.
Harper signed and shared the form on Facebook hoping for the best.
“Hargrave Elementary has been around for four generations. It’s very important to the community that we keep it,” she said.
Officials said the consolidation plan will tentatively start this upcoming school year.