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School board votes to consolidate middle schools

By SHANNON WATKINS

shannon@southwesttimes.com

 

After long months of consideration and debate, the Pulaski County School Board voted to consolidate middle schools in a brief segment of Thursday night’s meeting.

The decision was recommended by staff based on comments from several public hearings and multiple studies, including the building future study from 2002-2003 and the recent OWPR architectural study, presented at a public hearing in June.

It was also recommended the board approve the renovation of Dublin Elementary, and that staff be authorized to send the Board of Supervisors a letter requesting that site selection and design work on the schools begin immediately.

School Board Chairman Mike Barbour mentioned there would be a meeting next Thursday with the joint services oversight board and the joint board meeting with the Board of Supervisors the following Monday.

After no comments were forthcoming from other board members, Barbour said that the middle school issue should have been addressed in the 1970s and was long overdue. He said that the middle schools were “inadequate for twenty-first century learning,” and that while the most important factor in education was good teachers, the quality of the school buildings also had an influence.

“I’m certainly going to support the recommendation made by the administration,” Barbour said. While he granted that there were differing opinions on the matter, he added that he was doing what he felt would best serve the needs of Pulaski County students.

“I think that frankly our middle school students, as well as their teachers and staff, have made do with inadequate buildings far too long. I think the  existing buildings are far beyond the point where they can be effectively renovated, I think that every middle school student in Pulaski County deserves to have the same quality facility, I think that every middle school student in the county deserves a facility as good as any other facility in the state. I realize there’s going to be challenges, particularly in the area of funding a new middle school. I certainly will pledge my efforts to work with the board of supervisors to try and find their way forward with the funding. I just simply cannot accept the idea that  we should do nothing … I think the time to act is now.

“I fully support the idea of consolidated middle schools, I obviously support the renovation, the sooner the better, of Dublin Elementary. We have some very high-quality elementary schools in this county, we also are asking our students at Dublin Elementary to accept a less than adequate facility, and we certainly need to undertake the renovation of that school as soon as possible. Dr. Brewster, I fully support your recommendation.”

“I agree with Mr. Barbour,” said board member Linda Hill. “I taught at Pulaski Middle School, in fact I did two ‘tours of duty’ there, and it’s tough teaching there. It really is tough. Both schools need so many updates, and there’s a very old saying in education, ‘You either make them or break them in the middle years.’ And we need to make our students outstanding students. This is what we need to do so, so I fully support it.”

“Well, I guess I’m going to be the black sheep of the bunch,” said board member Frances Viars. “There are a number of reasons that I do not support consolidation. I’m a community person, and I have talked with a lot of people in the Dublin area, and in the Pulaski area both. And I do not think that this is really going to work that well. I even talked to some of the kids in both schools. I’m sorry, but I just cannot vote in favor of consolidation.”

After no more comments were forthcoming, School Board Vice Chairman Jeff Bain announced he would be honored to move that the board accept the recommendation for consolidation of the middle schools and renovation of Dublin Elementary, saying, “It is long overdue, and I fully support the recommendation.”

“Mr. Chairman, I would like to second that motion, and also express strong support for the recommendation,” said school board member Joe Guthrie.

The motion passed with only Viars voting against consolidation.

 

32 Responses to School board votes to consolidate middle schools

  1. veryconcerned

    October 19, 2013 at 7:02 am

    I think we are moving toward cosolidation of the services between the county and town. I do think the taxpayers need to have some say in the way these matters are handled.I really feel that now would be a great time to consolidate our local governments, towns and county

  2. Parent In Pulaski County

    October 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I agree with a few here. The high school should be turned into the consolidated middle school and a new PCHS built close to where it is now so they can still use the sports facilities. I also think that if the kids from Pulaski and Dublin were taught at an early age that they should be proud to be Pulaski County Cougars instead of adults creating this rivalry you wouldn’t have half of the problems with fighting. Pulaski and Dublin are all a part of Pulaski County and no one is better no matter which town they live in the sooner we adults realize that and start teaching out children pride in our communities and schools the better we will all be.

  3. Andrew Belcher Sr

    October 20, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I feel like the building of one middle school is a great idea. I think there is land at the highschool that could be used. Having everything right there together would be cool. You would have all the athledic fields that can be used. As for having one middle school team all they have to do is allow enough players to make the team that would be equal to both teams. Plus if chances are harder you are going to havethem try harder. Its a win win i say lets do it. Thank you.

  4. Lisa

    October 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I think the best thing we could do for the taxpayers in the county would be take the kids at critzer elementary and put them in PES, take the kids at PMS and put them in Critzer, add on to the new PES for the new kids coming over and renovate DMS, DES,also I think this situation should be put out for the taxpayers to vote on before doing anything. If you look at the kids leaving the county and the enrollment now compared to the enrollment 15 years ago that ought to tell you something, WE CAN’T AFFORD IT. Our county is in a worse financial state than the USA. How many people in this county 40 or over pays realestate taxes I would say not many. Most of the younger generation rents because there are no jobs here so they can’t afford to buy a house. So when the older ones are gone who is going to foot the bill? Lets get real! Can we afford more debt or not?

  5. MontgomeryMom

    October 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

    PMS Dad, you can not pay tuition to attend Montgomery County Schools so leave us out of your argument. Our new schools are wonderful and I do not mind paying higher taxes to have a state of the art place for my child to attend high school in Riner every day for the next four years (Auburn’s old high school was built in 1938). He deserves it as well as every other child in the NRV. People move to Montgomery County every day and Christiansburg has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Old buildings are not equipped for today’s technology. Educated people think of new ways to bring in business and jobs….

    • PMSDAD

      October 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Montgomery mom, you are wrong about not being able to pay tuition to go to a Montgomery county school. In fact, I know of one former PMS 8th grader who left to go to 9th grade at Blacksburg but his parents still live in the town of Pulaski.
      Montgomery Co. Is different than Pulaski in many many ways. We dont have 30,000 students spending money in our town like you do with VT’s presence. 50% of our kids are on free lunches, we dont have the resources to validate spending 114 million dollars like you guys did for BHS and Auburn. By the way, what do you care if we build a new school or not, you dont even live in Pulaski County, so you dont have a dog in this fight.

  6. PCHS & DES Mom

    October 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I realize the taxes will go up and as a home owner I am willing to pay that for the schools. PMS Dad said that unreal real estate taxes will keep people out but if I am not mistaken Montgomery Co taxes are about .35 more per $100 than Pulaski and I even believe that Blacksburg residents pay a additonal town tax of about .22 per $100 and Christiansburg pays about .13 per $100 so their taxes are considerably higher than Pulaski yet they continue to grow and get more and more residents and Pulaski isn’t so maybe it is time to bite the bullet and increase taxes and use that money wisely to make Pulaski a place people want to come and live. Build better schools, build a recreation center, do things to draw people into Pulaski County! Increase taxes some, sell off the old school buildings that are sitting as storage and we could make some positive changes in Pulaski County!