Beaufort News

Vote to take school closings off budget-cutting table fails

A motion by Beaufort County Board of Education member Ronald Speaks to take school closings off the table failed after a 5-5 vote Saturday.

Board members Michael Rivers, Herbert Burnes, Julie Bell and Steven Morello joined Speaks in voting against closing any district school.

Board members Fred Washington Jr., George Wilson, Laura Bush, Wayne Carbiener and Bill Evans voted to keep the option available. Board member Earl Campbell was absent.

Closing a public school is among several proposals the board is considering to combat an anticipated $4 million shortfall in this year's budget and a nearly $7 million shortfall expected next year.

Shuttering Shell Point Elementary School was presented for consideration in November. Parents there have been adamant in their opposition to the proposal.

Board members who voted to keep the closings on the list of possible ways to cope with the shortfall said their votes don't mean a school will close next fall. They said they want to avoid closing schools if possible but keep all options open as they develop an operating budget over the next few months.

"Until this budget is done, I don't want to make any commitment one way or the other," Wilson said.