Narrows residents call on Giles County Public Schools for transparency during consolidation discussions

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 11:21 PM EDT
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GILES COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - “This will be a tremendous setback for our community, so please give us your support on this and give my grandkids the same opportunity that my kids had in going to the best school in the state of Virginia,” said the first resident to speak at Thursday night’s Giles County School Board meeting.

Narrows residents, leaders, students and parents gathered Thursday night to ask the Giles County School Board for information about a potential project they’ve heard would close Narrows High School.

“Like it or not, this board is stuck making that choice now, because we have to spend an enormous amount of money either on both high schools, on a middle school option, or just a new high school and no middle school, and we’ve got issues with all of those,” said Stevie Steele, who represents the eastern district for the school board.

In Giles County, the elementary schools serve students in grades K-7 and the high schools serve students grades 8-12. For Narrows families, they just don’t understand why this choice has to be made.

“I’m asking that you take the time to read, to study, to brainstorm, about other possible options that would help accomplish whatever we’re trying to accomplish, before making such sweeping changes that will negatively effect so many people,” said one resident, who provided the board with research on how consolidation negatively impacts communities.

The school board understands the amount of public input and research that needs to be done before a decision is ultimately made.

“We need to give answers to everyone about the viable options and what they are; we gotta look at the facts. I feel a little different about this. I think consolidation right now is a solution in search of a problem,” said Jason Buckland, who represents the western district for the school board.

Though many of these decisions remain up in the air, Narrows residents made it clear, they want their high school to stay.

“Narrows High School is like the heartbeat of the town and the community around there and it sure would be a terrible blow if they decide to close that school down,” said Jimmy Ellis, a resident of Narrows.

GCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Arbogast declined an on-camera interview for this story. WDBJ7 will continue to follow the information.