Robeson County Schools aim for improvement as difficult year ends

A long school year finally came to an end Wednesday in Robeson County. 

LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – A long school year finally came to an end Wednesday in Robeson County.

“We’ve had a tough year, but we’ve been resilient,” said Shanita Wooten.

Now that most classes are out for the summer, Wooten, an assistant superintendent for technology and administration for the district, said they’re not working with students who missed weeks or even months of school after Hurricane Matthew and need to catch up.

“We put some strategies in place to go back and focus on concepts that may have been missed or that we couldn’t focus on,” Wooten explained.

The usually exciting last day of school was decidedly otherwise on the campus of West Lumberton Elementary, which has been empty since Hurricane Matthew nearly eight months ago. Now county school officials are joining with county officials to try and re-open schools and get students back where they belong.

Monday the Robeson County Commissioners updated their budget to include $930,000 for teacher supplements to bring more qualified educators to the rural district.

“Throughout the year we’ve had about 80 vacancies,” Wooten said. “So we want to be able to ensure we have the quality staff in our schools. We want to be able to attract them, and then once they’re here we want to retain them.”

The district first asked the Commissioners for $3.4 million for technology upgrades like GPS on buses and expanding the school resource officer (SRO) program.

“We would like to see the school resource officers in all our schools so that instead of splitting time between middle schools, they can be there full time.”

Commissioners denied the $3.4 million request, but Wooten said there’s still a bright future for students in Robeson County.

“They’ve done an amazing job this year,” said Wooten of the displaced West Lumberton Elementary students. “They’ve been quite resilient; their academics have not suffered due to Hurricane Matthew.”