By Amelia Harper
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools and Rocky Mount Preparatory School will re-open Monday after a week of closures, but Edgecombe County Schools may not re-open for awhile as one school is flooded and another is surrounded by floodwater. “Princeville Elementary School is flooded at this point and will have to be evaluated by FEMA before we can make any decisions as to when we can get back in,” said Susan Hoke, communications coordinator for Edgecombe County Public Schools.
“In the meantime, Superintendent (John) Farrelly is working on a plan for where to send Princeville Elementary students.” Hoke also said that W.A. Patillo Middle School is surrounded by floodwater. “As far as we know, the school is not flooded, but no one can get to it right now,” Hoke said. Hoke said that no school closures for Monday had been announced, but an announcement regarding school attendance would be issued this afternoon. The situation in Edgecombe County is further complicated by the fact that both Tarboro High School and Martin Millennium Academy still are being used as Red Cross emergency shelters for displaced residents.
The shelter at Martin Millennium Academy had been closed but was reopened Wednesday to help deal with overflow from other area shelters. The missing class time may not cause as many make-up days as it would have in the past. Vanessa Jeter, communications director for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said schools have increased flexibility under the state’s new calendar law and should be able to deal with the additional school closure time without resorting to many make-up days. That decision is left to each school system.
“The new calendar law requires schools to meet 185 days or 1,025 hours during the academic year. Under this law, a school system could actually meet about 170 days for six hours each day and still fulfill the state requirements,” Jeter said. Jeter also said the N.C. General Assembly could have the option of waiving some of the required attendance days when it meets for its long session in January. “It is really too early for school systems to need extra days off at this point,” Jeter said. “We will have to see how the winter goes.”
Though Edgecombe County Public Schools will be closed on Monday, the school board will meet on Monday night at 6:30 at the Central Office location on Pearl Street. This meeting was rescheduled from October 10, when it originally was slated. North East Carolina Prep and Edgecombe Community College have not announced closures for Monday as of press time, though floodwaters linger through much of the area. For updated information on school closures, go to rockymounttelegram.com.