• New School Options Questions and Answers

    The following questions were received from the public in February and March 2015 regarding the new school options being considered by the Board of Education.

    How was information about the Community Forum meetings communicated to the public?

    Information about the Community Forums was posted on the Gaston County Schools website and each school website, Channel 21, social media, and the school district’s mobile app. Principals used the telephone communication system to inform parents and articles appeared in The Gaston Gazette and other local newspapers.

    Why wasn’t there a Community Forum scheduled at Mount Holly Middle School since the attendance lines are being redrawn to relieve overcrowding?

    A Community Forum for the Mount Holly area was held on Tuesday, March 2 at Pinewood Elementary School.

    Will there be changes to the East Gaston and Stuart W. Cramer high school attendance lines to align feeder schools and relieve overcrowding at Mount Holly Middle School?

    Changes to the high school attendance lines are not included in the new school recommendations. The high school attendance lines were changed in 2011 prior to the opening of Stuart W. Cramer High School.

    I live in Mount Holly and have a student at Rankin Elementary. Where can I see the proposed attendance line changes for the new Stanley Middle School that will affect Mount Holly Middle School?

    The maps are available on the Gaston County Schools website under the ‘New School Options’ quick link. The maps also are on display at Mount Holly Middle, Pinewood Elementary and Rankin Elementary.

    When will a decision about the new school recommendations be final?

    The Board of Education will review feedback from the Community Forums and conduct a Public Hearing before making a decision about the proposed new schools. Information about the Public Hearing will be available on the Gaston County Schools website.

    What happens if I do not like the school where my child is reassigned?

    Parents are encouraged to learn more about the school that your child will attend and contact the principal for a tour of the school. The principal will be glad to talk to you and address any concerns that you have. Additionally, if a student is eligible for a transfer under the systemwide transfer guidelines, parents may request a transfer to another school; however, transfers are limited because of capacity at some schools.

    When is Forest Heights Elementary closing?

    If the Board of Education approves the recommendation for a new elementary school in west Gastonia, Forest Heights would close at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

    Why not build the new school at the Forest Heights location instead of the Pleasant Ridge location?

    If the proposal to build a new elementary school is approved, we will work with an architectural firm to determine if the Pleasant Ridge campus is the best location for the new school.

    Belmont Middle School is the oldest school in the county. Why isn’t Belmont Middle mentioned in the new school options?

    We have five former high school campuses that are currently used as middle schools, including Belmont Middle. Based on the Comprehensive Facilities Assessment completed by YCH Architects, there are significant improvements needed at these middle schools. The Board of Education’s recommendation for a new middle school in Stanley is the first step to addressing the need for upgrading/replacing the middle schools included in the Comprehensive Facilities Assessment.

    Will the new schools have new furniture?

    Typically, new furniture is included in the construction costs of a new school. Materials and resources being used at schools that may close will be distributed to the schools where the children will be assigned.

    What is the time frame for the new school options? When would the new schools open?

    The time frame to build a new school is approximately 18 to 24 months. The earliest the new middle school in Stanley and the new elementary school in west Gastonia would open is fall 2017. The new elementary school involves the consolidation of three schools: Forest Heights, Pleasant Ridge, and Rhyne. Rhyne Elementary would close at the end of the 2014-2015 school year and the students would be reassigned to another elementary school. Students at Forest Heights would be reassigned to another elementary school for the 2016-2017 school year. Students would change schools only once.

    What will be done about potential traffic issues at Pleasant Ridge if that site is chosen for the new elementary school?

    If the Pleasant Ridge site is chosen as the location for the new elementary school, we will work with the Department of Transportation to plan for additional traffic in the area.

    What would happen if the new elementary school is not ready to open at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year?

    If the new school is not ready at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, students could move once the new school is completed.

    What happens to the teachers who are at the schools that would close? Would they follow the students to another school?

    Yes. The teachers would be assigned to another school.

    Will the consolidation of schools increase the size of classrooms?

    Class size should not be affected by the new school recommendations.

    Will citizens be able to have a say in the decision about new schools?

    Yes. Citizens were able to ask questions and offer their suggestions during the Community Forums. Additionally, the Board of Education will conduct a Public Hearing to receive input from the community. The Board will consider all feedback before making a decision.

    Who is in charge of the new school options and Community Forums?

    The Board of Education is responsible for the new school options and Community Forums. The Board is working with the UNC-Charlotte Urban Institute on the options for new schools in Gaston County. The Community Forums are being conducted by the Gaston County Schools Student Support Services Department in partnership with the Urban Institute.

    What will happen to the school buildings that would close?

    The buildings would be declared surplus by the Board of Education and revert to the county.

    How big is the Pleasant Ridge Elementary campus?

    There are 15 acres of land at the Pleasant Ridge location.

    If the new school is a two-story or three-story building, will it have an elevator?

    Yes. All new school buildings must be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

    Will the new schools have enough room for support staff?

    Yes. The new schools would be built in accordance with current space recommendations for support staff such as counselors, nurses, media specialists and social workers.

    How would Gaston County Schools pay for the new schools?

    The funding to build the new schools is available from the school bond referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters in November 2007.

    Why don’t you wait until the new elementary school is built before you move any students?

    We have enough space in other elementary schools to go ahead and begin the process to consolidate Forest Heights, Pleasant Ridge and Rhyne. Doing so will help us to better use existing school facilities.

    When will we know the final decision about where the new schools will be located?

    If the Board of Education approves the new school recommendations, the Master Facilities Planning Committee will work with an architectural firm to determine the best locations for the new schools with the Board giving final approval.

    My child will be in the fifth grade next year and would go to a different elementary school under the proposed attendance lines. Will he have to change schools?

    A student in this situation will be allowed to stay at his/her current school unless the student is at a school that would close at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Parents may have to provide transportation for their child.

    What elementary schools will be affected by the consolidation of Forest Heights, Pleasant Ridge and Rhyne?

    Schools affected by the consolidation would include Sadler, Chapel Grove, Bessemer City Primary, Bessemer City Central, H.H. Beam, Sherwood and Woodhill because of proposed changes to the attendance lines.

    How many students will attend the new elementary school?

    The new elementary school in west Gastonia would house approximately 650 students with a capacity of 800 students to accommodate future growth.

    What will be the bus routes for the new elementary school?

    If construction of the new elementary school is approved, bus routes will be determined prior to the opening of the school.

    How many Community Forums must be held to meet the law?

    State law does not require the Board of Education to conduct Community Forums. The Board chose to hold the Community Forums to give citizens an opportunity to learn more about the new school options, ask questions and offer feedback. The Board is required to conduct a Public Hearing before making a decision about school closings or consolidation.

    Is there a proposed location for the new middle school in Stanley?

    A location has not been determined. However, it may be possible to build a new school on the existing Stanley Middle School campus.

    Will the children being reassigned to another school be treated fairly?

    Yes. The principal, teachers and staff will welcome the students to their new school and work with parents to make the transition as smooth as possible.

    Will H.H. Beam Elementary be overcrowded if students from Rhyne Elementary are moved to H.H. Beam?

    No. There is space available at H.H. Beam Elementary to accommodate students.

    Will reassigning students from Rhyne, Pleasant Ridge and Forest Heights to other schools create more parent involvement?

    We encourage parents to get involved with their child’s school. Parents are very important to their child’s academic success, and we want parents involved. Parents may speak to the school principal about ways to support their child’s school.

    If the Board approves the new school options, how will the community be updated on the progress?

    We will work diligently to keep parents and the community informed. Information will be posted on the Gaston County Schools website and school websites. We also will use Channel 21, social media, telephone notification system, news media, and other means of communication to keep the community up-to-date.

    Why is the Board of Education considering the new schools?

    The Board of Education is seeking ways to provide better school facilities for children and maximize the use of existing school facilities.

    Is there a proposal for renovations at Woodhill Elementary?

    The new school options being considered by the Board of Education do not include renovations of schools.

    Can all of the components of closing a school (Rhyne Elementary) be done by August?

    If the Board of Education approves the option to build a new elementary school in west Gastonia and consolidate Forest Heights, Pleasant Ridge and Rhyne, there is enough time between now and August to close Rhyne Elementary at the end of the 2014-2015 school year and transition the children to other elementary schools.

    Are there plans to replace Mount Holly Middle School?

    Mount Holly Middle School is not included in the new school options being considered by the Board of Education.

    Have you considered purchasing a parcel of land to build the new schools?

    If the Board of Education approves the recommendations for a new elementary school in west Gastonia and a new middle school in Stanley, the Board will consider land options, which include purchasing land or building on land available at an existing school campus.