School leaders in Robeson County ready to return to the classroom

Posted October 19, 2016

— Leaders of Robeson County schools say they plan to get students back to class on Monday, two weeks after the county was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew.

As of Wednesday, three schools in the county were serving as shelters, while others suffered severe flood damage.

West Lumberton Elementary, with 130 students, is the smallest school in the county but has the most damage.

"It's devastating," said second-year Principal Tara Bullard. "Out of the building I've been very stoic about it, but it's very emotional. This school means a lot to my family. It means a lot to my students and my community."

There is no telling when the students will return to the building.

"We are looking at other facilities and other places that we can put those kids in," said Superintendent Thomas Lowry.

Lowry said despite Lumberton Elementary, all other schools in the county will be ready on Monday.

"Right now we are working out of a car," Lowry said after his office was destroyed. "We are working out of cars in different areas and just moving around to different areas...being mobile."

Fourteen busses and activity busses were damaged in the floods. Some bridges and roads were washed away, which means longer routes for some students.

Bullard said despite the heartache, she is ready to get back to school.

"It's really important for those children to have consistency and have their teachers back with them," she said.

Lowry said he spoke to Gov. Pat McCrory about forgiving the two weeks of missed instruction, meaning the class time would not have to be made up.


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