Commissioners hear comments on shifting school demographics

Veterans Services Officer Rod Barbee recognized Vice Chair Gene McIntyre and his wife, Sue McIntyre, with the Veterans Service Recognition Award | SCC

ALBEMARLE — The Stanly County Commissioners met for their regular meeting on Monday night. To begin the meeting, the commissioners recognized Marla Lukach who retired from Stanly County Home Health. She began working in 1998.

Veterans Services Officer Rod Barbee recognized Vice Chair Gene McIntyre and his wife, Sue McIntyre, with the Veterans Service Recognition Award.

As the commission moved into their limited voting agenda, Dolly Clayton, assistant Health & Human Services director, asked the commission to consider proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The commission approved the request 7-0.

The board held a public hearing to discuss the naming of a private road off of Silver Road in Oakboro. County Manager Andy Lucas presented the request and stated that the primary reason for the request was to aid law enforcement as the addresses are currently designated with the same address with a letter appended. Lucas said the addition of letters to the street addresses made it difficult for law enforcement and other first responders to quickly locate an address. Lucas also told the board that the recommended name for the road was Barn Wood Lane, which was recommended after a comprehensive process that involved consulting adjacent landowners. There were no public comments for or against the naming of the road. The board unanimously accepted the recommendation to name the road Barn Wood Lane.

Following the public hearing, the commission received a presentation on Stanly County Schools capacity, demographics, trends, school choices and taxes from former commissioner Peter Asciutto. Asciutto stated that he was making the presentation to various elected bodies, including the Board of Education and municipal boards. According to Asciutto, attendance has declined in Stanly County Schools in 15 of the past 16 school years. Total enrollment has dropped by more than 1,700 students since the 2001-02 school year with student numbers dropping from 10,038 admitted students to 8,275.

Based on the shifting enrollment, Asciutto suggested that there were thousands of unused seats in the Stanly County School System.

Asciutto recommended school consolidation as the solution to some underutilized spaces. Commissioner Matthew Swain responded to Asciutto’s argument for school consolidation stating that consolidation was “a dangerous game.” Swain also noted that state mandated lowering of class sizes would result in needing more teachers and could balance out the facilities utilization.

John Edwards from Oakboro asked to address the commission during the public comment period. Edwards, who is running for the county school board, responded to Asciutto’s comments saying that the data needed “context and perspective.” Edwards also asked the commission to “reserve judgment on what you’ve heard here” until he could make a formal presentation to the commission on the same topics and data. He said that he would put a request in to make a presentation to the commission “in short order.”

Chairman Joseph Burleson reminded the commissioners that they will hold a joint meeting on April 16 at 4:30 p.m. with the Library Board of Trustees. The Stanly County Commission will next meet April 2 at 6 p.m.