Joe Toler Elementary to Close This Year; Mary Potter Middle to Follow

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

At their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, January 7, 2019, the Granville County Board of Education approved a motion to close Joe Toler Oak Hill Elementary School at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. This vote passed with a 5-2 vote. At this same meeting, the Board also approved a motion to assign the students who currently attend Mary Potter Middle School to Northern Granville Middle School effective with the 2019-2020 school year. This vote passed with a 5-2 vote.

The Board then approved another motion that Mary Potter Middle School campus would remain an educational facility and data be provided to the Board of Education, by the Superintendent, of all cost options for the location of additional programs and for the Central Office to be housed on the Mary Potter Middle School campus. This vote passed 6-1.

In accordance with these decisions, district staff will begin the process of creating implementation and transition plans. Teams from each school will assist in providing input in determining new attendance zones, staff assignments, academic programs, and parent communications. In addition, staff will begin the process of gathering information for the Board related to the future potential uses of the Mary Potter Middle School facility so it may remain a vibrant part of the community.

For more than a year, board members have been addressing the issue of school reorganization in our district. The state of North Carolina provides essential funding for school districts based on the average daily membership (ADM) of students. With the increase in charter school choices in our region, the enrollment of the school district has decreased over the past several years.  This has caused significant decreases in funding for the school district. At the same time, the number of school buildings has remained the same, with the facility usage percentages dramatically falling at some schools in particular.

To address this problem, the district has relied on fund balance (the district savings account) over the past four years to cover the budget deficit. This year alone, the district is projected to spend nearly one million dollars more than it is funded. Future projections indicate the district could soon face serious financial problems absent action being taken. School reorganization will save the district significant funds by making more efficient use of our facilities and staffing and will also decrease overall operational expenses. It will also prevent additional deep cuts from our academic programs and personnel who serve our students.

In considering these closures, the Board directed a series of studies and held public hearings to gather information and hear from multiple stakeholders. It is estimated that the closure of these two schools could result in savings for the district of more than $778,000 dollars each year beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, in October of 2018, the Board approved the merger of JF Webb School of Health & Life Sciences with the JF Webb High School beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. It is estimated that this merger will save the district more than $40,000 dollars per year moving forward.

The Board of Education plans to continue its work with efforts to save money and improve academic opportunities for all students.  They will continue to address school reorganization in the coming months and will explore a variety of other options. One study that has already been authorized is the evaluation of the efficient use of facilities related to GC Hawley Middle School and the surrounding elementary schools. Additional considerations may be made as well.

As the board continues to work through these difficult decisions, the administration will still be laser-focused on providing the very best possible opportunities for the students of Granville County.

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