Local News

Cumberland Board Votes to Close Elementary School

Posted December 12, 2006 6:51 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2006 12:30 p.m. EST

— Parents and teachers rallied around a small, neighborhood school with declining enrollment, but the Cumberland County School Board has decided that resource allocation has to trump community affection for the Fayetteville school.

The board voted Tuesday evening to close Young Howard elementary at the end of the school year and use it instead as the Health and Life Sciences High School. It will still carry the Howard name, however. Elementary students will be sent to other low-enrollment schools next year.

A group of parents stood outside the board’s headquarters for two days before the meeting in hopes of avoiding the closure.

Young Howard was built in the 1950s, and some of the children play on a playground where their grandparents did. The school was built to hold 340 children. Today, it has 163 students.

“It means a lot. It's tight. I mean, everybody knows everybody,” said local resident Tony Decatur. “Whenever you walk in, they say. ‘Hey, Mr. Decatur, we know you.’ That's a good feeling.”

“That is a sentiment our board has taken seriously,” said school spokeswoman Wanda McPhaul on Tuesday. She said the closure makes practical sense, however, considering the neighborhood's shrinking population.