The Union County town of Lockhart has a population hovering around 500. It may be a small town, but it is a proud town – one that is very closely-knit.
When it comes to teaching the town’s children, there’s only one option–Lockhart Elementary and Middle School. And in the town, it’s a valued place.
“It’s like a family relationship here at Lockhart,” said parent Ashley Castle. “It’s like a second family.”
Castle is a graduate of the school, and has kids that either have graduated or are still at the school.
But under a plan that Union County Schools are considering, the school’s future could be in jeopardy. The system is exploring the possibility of shutting down the school.
“This is going to tear our community up,” said mayor Ailene Ashe.
Union County Schools provided numbers to FOX Carolina, which showed the decline in the student population. 150 students currently attend the school, down from close to 250 ten years ago.
The numbers also showed that the classes are below the target of 22 students per class. In the eighth grade class alone, there are 13 students.
Another factor is the cost per student, which according to the school system is over $14,211. That’s compared to $7.578 average for at least four other schools in the county where the children may be transferred to, which is a 15 to 20 minute drive out of the city limits, depending on the school.
Union County Schools superintendent Dr. Bill Roach said in a statement that, “While we understand that the possibility of closing Lockhart Schools is very hard for the Lockhart community, we also know that we have to look at the district as a whole and make sure we are providing the same level of education to all Union County students.”
Lockhart parents cite reports of overcrowding at other schools as a reason to keep the school open.
Ashe, who has lived most of her life in the town, said that she’s seen too many things go away in the town over the years. A decade ago, she said, was the town’s high school. More recently, the town’s post office.
“We don’t have much here other than our churches and our school,” she said. “And we do not want to lose our school.”
Parents are invited to attend a forum on Monday evening at Lockhart Schools Auditorium to discuss the possibility of the school closure. Anyone wishing to speak at the forum is asked to contact the Superintendent’s Office before 12:00 p.m. Monday.
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