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Robeson County to close West Lumberton Elementary

The Robeson County School Board decided Tuesday night to close West Lumberton Elementary School.

One neighborhood in Robeson County is losing their elementary school for good.

The Robeson County School Board decided Tuesday night to close West Lumberton Elementary School.

"They’re taking more than what the storm took away from us," Crystal Norton, a parent of West Lumberton students, said.

Crystal Norton and her two children went to the school, but now her grandkids won’t be able to.

"If I could do anything in the world to get it back open, I would," Norton said.

After attendance dropped below 100 students, the state would no longer pay for the principal of the school, a price tag of over $86,000, including salary, benefits and health insurance, according to Vice Chairman Brian Freeman.

"It would have came out of local funds and with cuts from the state. That makes it more difficult for us to do that," Craig Lowry, a board member, said.

After Hurricane Matthew damaged the school in 2016, the students were moved to Lumberton Jr. High School.

Next school year, they’ll be moved to W. H. Knuckles Elementary School.

"Keeping those kids together as much as possible, I’m sure, will be an effort upon our central office," Lowry said.

"It’s just a school I didn’t want mine to have to go to," Norton said.

Freeman said they will work to reassign teachers.

"This has not been an easy time for the community there, for the school. It was one of those decisions we felt like we had to make," Lowry said.

Norton said she was holding up hope the neighborhood staple would never leave.

"Losing it, it can’t be replaced. Even though they can go somewhere else, it’ll never be the same," Norton said.

The board hasn’t decided what will be done with the building.

Board members tell us money and the fact the school is in a flood zone made it difficult to fix the school.

Superintendent Dr. Shanita Wooten released the following statement:

The decision to close West Lumberton Elementary was not an easy decision. State policy dictates a minimum student population of 100 students for the state to fund a school principal. The West Lumberton Elementary student population declined by approximately 30 students after Hurricane Matthew. I appreciate all of the parents and community members who took the time to voice their support to keep West Lumberton open. I would also like to say thank you to everyone throughout our county and across the nation who supported the West Lumberton students and staff during the past year. Our administration will work diligently to ensure a smooth transition for them as we prepare for the new school year.
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