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Educational choice is prevalent in Elkin

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As school ends for the summer this week, the last thing on the minds of parents and students is starting over again in the fall. With more school options coming to the local area, parents and guardians may be interested in weighing just which opportunity is right for them.

In a recent published article regarding the new Yadkin Valley Community School, the community learned that the small independent school’s objective is to provide an interactive learning environment that educates children through multi-age classrooms in grades kindergarten through sixth. While the school plans to begin its first school year in the coming fall, many in the community have raised concerns regarding the impact on local school systems.

According to Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe, choices are always going to be available and, in his opinion, ECS is a highly viable option.

“We’re constantly focused on improving our teaching and enriching our professional educators,” said Bledsoe, whose main goal is to look ahead for improvement in striving for academic excellence. “Our goal is from the top down, how can we be better tomorrow than we are today.”

In regards to impact to the already strained state funding on school systems, many wonder if students leaving the local school districts to attend a private, charter or even a different school within or outside of the county, will affect the funding amount.

According to Bledsoe, the regulations for funding may be impacted, but that is not his primary concern. “In today’s school environment, choice is an option being provided to citizens, not only in Elkin but all over North Carolina,” said Bledsoe. “Parents make the choice as to where their child goes.”

Bledsoe explained that school funding on the state level follows the child. For instance, if a family from the local community chose to send their child to school in a neighboring county, the money would follow the student in funding that school system. However, on the county and local levels, funding is still benefiting the local community due to the child living in the local community.

While there is some impact, Bledsoe believes that choice is the main concern when it comes to educating the future. “We feel like we are a school of choice and possibility because of our professionally dedicated staff,” said Bledsoe. “Our kids embody challenges to achieve at a higher level, they’re community supported by parents, grandparents and local businesses.”

According to Bledsoe, many parents have made the choice to bring their children to ECS rather than schools that are possibly closer to them. “Twenty-five percent of our students are brought in from an outside district,” said Bledsoe.

As Bledsoe listed the numerous accolades received by ECS this year, the highest point of interest to parents and students alike was the safety of the school. According to Bledsoe, the number of students and parents that feel ECS are a safe place ranks 100 percent. Another point of interest is the 70 percent of students that choose to participate in extracurricular activities including sports, band, drama and more.

As the school year ends, administrators from each of the local school systems will certainly not be resting. With hours of lesson plans and logistical concerns ahead of them, ECS, Yadkin Valley Community School, Bridges Charter Academy and others will be working diligently to prepare to offer their students the best opportunity, regardless of their choice of institution.

Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.

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