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Public hearings will review possible closure of elementary, high schools

Posted on July 23, 2021

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Workers install a new roof on Creedmoor Elementary School in early 2020.

Amanda Dixon | Butner-Creedmoor News file

Workers install a new roof on Creedmoor Elementary School in early 2020.

amanda@butnercreedmoornews.com

OXFORD — After nearly two and a half hours of discussion and frustration on Thursday, the members of the Granville County Board of Education reached an agreement on how they might move forward with school consolidation. 

Two public hearings next week will give the public a chance to weigh in on several proposals the school board is considering. 

The first is the closure of either Creedmoor Elementary School or Wilton Elementary School. That hearing will take place Monday, July 26. 

A second hearing on Tuesday, July 27, will let the public give feedback on two different plans for consolidating or rearranging schools in the district, primarily middle and high schools. 

The hearings come after months — if not years — of discussion by the school board on how to cut operation costs in face of declining enrollment in public schools. The school board had earlier said it wanted to make a decision before school let out for the summer, but missed that deadline to consider alternative plans.  

“We have already pissed off most of the county by dragging this out as long as we have,” David Richardson, chair of the Board of Education, said at Thursday’s meeting. “We have to make the tough decisions and move forward.”

The two consolidation proposals to be discussed at Tuesday’s hearing both largely center around G.C. Hawley Middle School, which was recently found to need a multimillion-dollar face lift to keep it operational. The district plans to close that campus. 

The first option will be to convert all elementary schools in the county to K-6 schools. The seventh and eighth grade students at G.C. Hawley could choose to attend either Butner-Stem Middle School or a wing that would be dedicated to seventh and eighth grade students at South Granville High Schools. 

The second option proposes moving G.C. Hawley to the campus of South Granville High School. Then, Granville Central and South Granville high schools would be consolidated into a new school on Granville Central’s campus. 

Public hearings set

The school board will hear public comments about the closure of either Creedmoor Elementary or Wilton Elementary at Monday’s hearing. The board will hear comments about the two plans for G.C. Hawley at Tuesday’s hearing. 

Both hearings will begin at 6 p.m. at Tar River Elementary School, 2642 Philo White Road, Franklinton.

Anyone wanting to speak in person must sign up before 6 p.m. Sign-up begins at 5:15 p.m. Speakers will be given up to three minutes to address the board. 

Written comments can also be emailed to publiccomment@gcps.k12.nc.us or delivered to the central office at 101 Delacroix St., Oxford.

Both hearings can be watched live online at https://live.myvrspot.com/st?cid=MDhkZj.

Survey inconclusive  

The school board’s decision came weeks after it conducted a survey, asking the public for its ideas for school consolidation. The district says it needs to trim $1.7 million from its annual budget to stay afloat. 

Although the board referenced the survey results on Thursday, several members said it was a fraction of the information needed to make decisions about the future. The survey didn’t provide any information as to who or why individuals may have taken the survey, and board members wondered if people without children in public schools filled out the survey.

Ultimately, the school board didn’t use much of the data gathered by the survey. Instead, the board members talked at length about school locations, unintended consequences, school curriculum, and what is best for the children.

“We have been losing children to charter schools, and now we are starting to lose teachers to other districts because we can not make a decision,” Richardson said. “It is our responsibility to make those tough decisions. The proposals that we are going to present to the public are the first steps.

“We will listen to the public comments, and we will go back and try to make the best decisions possible.”

County Commissioner Russ May attended the meeting. 

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