Recommendations from the results of a just revealed consultant’s study call for closing down 10 schools in the Guilford County system including Kiser Middle School, Hampton Elementary School and Kearns Academy.
The closures – proposed by a consulting firm paid nearly $1 million to assess the school system’s needs – would be part of a major $1.5 billion effort to completely overhaul the county’s school system.
While many, many conclusions and recommendations in the study are sure to electrify the community’s parents, students and educators, one of the most sensitive and controversial parts of the study is the finding by MGT Consulting Group that, for the sake of efficiency, Guilford County Schools needs to close a number schools for which alumni and others in the community have a great deal of affection.
At a three-hour Thursday afternoon, Jan. 31 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education, the consultants stated that, based on population trends, facility conditions and efficiency considerations, there are 10 schools that need to be closed. At the meeting, the language the consultants used was that these schools should be “repurposed.” There was some confusion over that word at first, however, the definition they gave soon revealed that “repurposed” meant “closed.” Some buildings could be used for other purposes the consultants said, but the buildings shouldn’t be used as places where students attend school and the 10 schools should not be replaced.
Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips wasn’t sure he was hearing it right and, during the meeting, he asked again for the consultants to state what they meant by “repurpose.”
Bessemer Elementary is one school that would close its doors to students if the proposal is followed. In that case, of the 481 students at the school, 281 would be moved to Erwin Elementary and 200 to Washington Elementary.
Hampton Elementary would also close and 175 students would be moved to Bluford Elementary and 155 to Peeler Elementary.
The consultants also recommended that Guilford County Schools close Vandalia Elementary, and move all of those students to Frazier Elementary, close Wiley Elementary and move the 347 students to Peck Elementary.
Kiser Middle School would also be shut down if the suggestions are acted upon, with that 986-student population transferred to Hairston, Mendenhall and Swann middle schools.
Welborn Middle School would be closed as well, with those students being sent to Penn Griffin Middle School.
In addition, Greensboro SCALE School, Kearns Academy, Twilight High School and Old McIver School would be shut down and the students sent elsewhere.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said it’s important to note that currently these are just recommendations and he added that some commissioners and school board members who heard the findings had a lot of concerns about many of the recommendations made.
Branson said he knows the findings will be upsetting to some but said that there’s a great deal of work and discussion needed before any of it becomes a reality.
“It’s a lot easier to come in from the outside and make recommendations like this,” Branson said of the consultants, noting that something might look good on paper, but the three representatives of MGT, Branson said, don’t have to answer to parents or run for reelection like the school board members and commissioners in the room might choose to do one day.