Local News

Wayne County School Board Approves Building Plan, Updates Transfer Policy

Posted March 25, 2004 11:08 a.m. EST

— Amid concerns about segregation in Goldsboro schools, the Wayne County School Board met for an hour Wednesday night to take two important votes.

But segregation in Goldsboro schools is not going to be solved in an hour.

The student body at the six schools in the Goldsboro city limits is almost 100 percent black. The School Board did not directly address the issue, but they did unanimously pass an $82 million building plan.

"I'm really glad we remained focused, not on what voters would vote for, but on what the needs of the children needed to be," Vice Chairman Lehman Smith said.

Some fear the needs of the children in the city are not being met. Under the plan, city schools receive less than $6 million in improvements. County schools get $76 million.

The board also voted in favor of tightening the open transfer policy, which allows students to leave one school for another at will.

Board member Thelma Smith said the policy takes students away from city schools.

"I did not vote for it the first time; I can't vote for it this time," Smith said. "I cannot do it."

Goldsboro NAACP President Sylvia Barnes said the board is not doing enough to deal with segregation.

"They're making the bare minimal change," Barnes said. "They don't want to make waves."

It is unclear how Wednesday's two votes will impact the segregation issue. But one thing is very clear: board members are very reluctant to talk about segregation, especially in an election year.

"It's sad," Barnes said. "They put themselves before doing what is right for the children.

"There's no way we should be living in 2004, and we have segregated schools."

The updated transfer policy takes effect July 1.

The building plan, meanwhile, goes to the county commissioners for approval. Voters likely will be asked to support a bond referendum to pay for it.

Board members say the reason more money is going to the county is because they plan to build two new high schools there.