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Town Council adopts Pulaski Middle School resolution

By CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

Tuesday night’s Pulaski Town Council meeting heard the proposal of two resolutions.

One resolution concerned the consolidation of Pulaski Middle School, while the other concerned the reconstruction of Exit 94 off Interstate-81. The council moved to adopt both resolutions.

The council agreed to express their concerns regarding the potential closing of Pulaski Middle School to The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors. One of those main concerns was the town’s struggle with repurposing empty buildings, especially considering the school’s prominent location.

“Our beacon on the hill is the middle school,” said council member Gregory East. “It overlooks the entire town, and we’ve got a community full of buildings that are in need of repurposing.”

Another concern presented was the economic impact on the community that the closure could cause. Council member Joseph Goodman specified that closing the school would cut down on the number of citizens commuting in and out of the Town, subsequently hurting town businesses and revenue.

“The economic impact that this could have on our community could be very severe,” said Goodman. “There’s a lot of little transactions that occur with people coming and going, and if you get rid of those, it would be a large loss of income.”

The council discussed the Town’s competitive tax rate as another significant factor, which could cripple Pulaski’s revitalization efforts with the loss of income. The current tax rate gives the Town an edge over neighboring counties when attracting potential residents and business owners.

The council will address these concerns to the Board of Supervisors at the County Administration Building on Monday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 pm.

The council also discussed Resolution 201402, which concerned the reconstruction of Exit-94 off Interstate-81. The council agreed to adopt the resolution, as the Exit has become a safety concern with the increased volume of traffic.

The meeting started off with a presentation from Janet Kester, the program coordinator for Literacy Volunteers of the New River Valley.

In her presentation, Kester updated the council on everything the organization is doing, as they are currently helping educate 18 Pulaski residents, nine of which live in the town. Kester also touched on what those residents are specifically learning

“Half are learning to read, or learning to read better,” said Kester. “ The other half are learning English as a second language, or working towards the goal of citizenship.”

Kester also touched on the fact that the Literacy Volunteers are working to broaden their funding and diversify their sources. Right now, the group is partnered with New River Community College, and has started teaching computer literacy to help residents develop potential occupational skills.

Other topics discussed during the meeting included VDOT’s Six Year Plan, upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant, and a planning grant for Kersey Bottom/Case Knife Road area.

Comments

comments

4 Responses to Town Council adopts Pulaski Middle School resolution

  1. Joe Guthrie

    January 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    The resolution by the town council regarding the school is terribly misguided and disappointing, and I hope citizens of the town who value education for our students, as well as anyone who wants to see Pulaski prosper, will let the mayor and town council members aware of their displeasure.

    It’s misguided first of all because it’s directed to the Board of Supervisors, not to the School Board, and only the School Board can make decisions on schools. The Board of Supervisors only makes decisions regarding funding. If the town council had wanted to express their opinion about how to improve our middle schools they could have sent a resolution to the School Board prior to our vote, and it would have received fair consideration.

    It is also misguided because, as I read the article about it, their position on the issue has nothing to do with how we can best educate our children in the town and the county today and in the future. That has to be the top priority in any decision regarding schools, and the town council appears to have totally neglected it.

    Also, had the town council wanted to make an informed decision on the school consolidation issue, they could have invited School Superintendent Dr. Brewster or Chairman Mike Barbour to their meeting to learn more about the project and why we on the School Board have decided consolidation of the middle schools is best for the children of the town and the county and also makes the most sense economically for taxpayers in the town and county. Instead, they passed this resolution with no input or information from school officials at all.

    It’s also mind-boggling to try to understand how the town council could possibly believe that not replacing an aging and quickly deteriorating middle school is somehow in the best interest of economic development and revitalization of the town. The future site of the new middle school has not yet been determined, but wherever it is, either in the town or in the county, it will greatly benefit the town’s economy when people know they can live and work in the town of Pulaski and send their children to high quality schools at every grade level. We already have excellent elementary schools. We have a high school that offers numerous advanced placement courses, college-level dual enrollment classes, and excellent vocational training. The town of Pulaski also hosts the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School (formerly Northwood Elementary building) which several of our 11th and 12 graders attend. What we severely lack is adequate facilities for our 6-8 grades. A new school will solve that problem most affordably for taxpayers and provide the best education for those students.

    What the town council got right was addressing a concern to the Board of Supervisors about re-purposing the current building. That is a very valid consideration and one the School Board takes seriously in considering building a new school. It is also appropriate to address that to the Board of Supervisors, since the ownership of a former school building reverts back to a county if it is no longer being used for education. I agree that the school building is a prominent feature in the town and so re-purposing the building or the site is very important, and I am confident that can be done, and I have spoken with Mayor Worrell about some ways to repurpose the property. A community center, a wellness center are just a few of those possibilities.

    Our top priority considering our schools must be what is the best choice for our children within our resources. I hope when the town council takes any further action on a matter considering schools they will keep that in mind.

    Joe Guthrie
    Pulaski County School Board

  2. Billy J

    January 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that Guthrie cites the Governor’s School in his argument. We were all told by the School Board that Northwood Elementary School was too old and run down to be used anymore as a school. Then, after we committed to building the new Pulaski Elementary School, Northwood was revitalized and now houses our best and brightest! The School Board fooled us once, shame on us if we fall for this argument again. I applaud the Pulaski Town Council for expressing their view on this issue and I believe that Mr. Guthrie and others will find that the majority of the public is OPPOSED to building a new Middle School. He is correct that the School Board decides issues related to the school system, but they have no taxing authority nor spending authority. The Board of Supervisors hold the purse strings.

  3. pchsdad

    January 10, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Mr. Guthrie, schools do not educate students. Teachers do. The citizens of Pulaski county cannot afford to have their real estate and/or personal property increase to support this huge burden. It must be nice to live in a bubble where all you get to do is make ridiculous recommendations regardless of the financial repercussions to the residents. Perhaps if the superintendent lived in this county, and shared the tax debt, he would make more rational decisions in regards to building. Remember Mr. Guthrie, you are an elected official and you can be replaced.

  4. Bessie85

    January 11, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Laying these arguments aside, what I am guessing will happen is the middle school students will wind up in the high school and the high school will be replaced. The high school is now 40 years old, so very soon this argument will take place again. Historically in this area, the students that are at the most vulnerable due to being the “tweenagers” must accept the older school. It is kind of like being the middle child and having to always wear hand me downs. Sad, really. As a parent of a former PMS student and the grandmother of a former DMS student, I have seen the deterioration first hand. This is not new but like everything else, we are having to suffer because our “forefathers” did not see the need to fix the schools anymore than they saw the need to fix the town before it detonated.

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