Board decides not to change transportation policy

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Those present at the Southampton County School Board unanimously agreed on Monday evening to clarify, not change, the existing policy about transporting non-resident students. The final paragraph in the letter to non-resident applicants now states:

“Transportation will be provided only if there is no additional cost to the [school] division and there is available seating on the bus. Priority for available seating will be given to resident students. No new stops will be established to pick up or drop off non-resident students.”

The previous version featured “Transportation will be provided only if there is no cost to the division and there room on the bus. Resident students will always have first choice for seats.”

The issue has been a part of discussion since board vice chairman James Pope brought up the matter earlier this fall. At the time Pope wanted “clarification on the wording of our policy on transportation of our nonresident students to make sure we were all on the same page.” To which he added that several parents had contacted him about the matter, so Pope wanted to be sure he fully understood the policy before replying.

Initially, the discussion focused on whether there’s a need to make any changes. Dr Deborah Goodwyn, chairwoman, asked Dr. Carolyn Modlin, Florence Reynolds and William Worsham to study the matter; later, Lynn Bradley was asked for input.

Initially, Christopher Smith and Reynolds were among those board members who opposed making changes.

“If we open this door to one student, we’re going to have to make exceptions for all,” she said in September. “I see us opening a quagmire.”

On Monday, Worsham noted that state law doesn’t allow for a board to charge an extra fee, even if the parents are willing. During a previous meeting, two parents did make an offer to pay if they could better ensure their children’s attendance in Southampton County Public Schools.


In other board matters, Modlin presented the update on the board self-evaluation. She noted the scores were “generally closely clustered and all marked 3 or higher on 1-5 scale. The average lowest was 3.125 on the question “Our Board supports staff efforts to build collaborative relationships/partnerships with other agencies and businesses.”

The highest was 5.0 on “Our Board has established a written vision that commits to student achievement as its top priority.”

Modlin added, “I think they [the scores] show the board works very well together.”

No action needed to be taken on this matter.


Joy Carr gave the financial report. The original budget is $29.47M; revised at $31.99M; actual is at $9.88M; there’s a $22.10M balance; and 30.9 percent has been spent.

Included in those figures

Instruction: $18.896M; $18.899M; $5.88M; $13.01M; and 31.13 percent, respectively.

Debt service: $2.89M; $2.89M; $1.34M; $1.50; and 47.84 percent, respectively.

Bradley asked when was the last time the school system looked at health insurance, to which Carr said state division is looking into that topic. Following that, the board agreed to pay bills.


• The 12-month winter break work schedule is Dec.19-21; 27-28. The Board office will remain open, but it will be a skeleton crew, said Goodwyn. Office hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• The tentative budget calendar outline for fiscal year 2017-2018 will begin with residents’ input on the Monday, Jan. 9 meeting. A work session will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Speaking of which, the appointment of a budget committee again features: Denise Bunn, Pope and Smith. All three said yes to the request to serve; any board member can attend work sessions.

• Student enrollment is at 2,614; 2,621 total.

“We are on target in terms of enrollment, the chairwoman announced, adding next that Riverdale Elementary won the banner for highest student attendance at 96.2 percent; and Meherrin Elementary at 96.42 percent for teacher attendance.