Parents pack community forum about school closing proposal

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - More than 200 parents, teachers and students crammed into a community forum, hoping to persuade the Chesterfield School Board from closing Chester Middle School.

"I can't imagine a person in this room that would think disbanding a middle school is a better one," said Margie Adcock, a teacher at Chester Middle.

Out of the more than two hundred who showed up, nearly three dozen teachers, parents and students spoke from the heart about why they think the school should stay open.

"We are a successful school, a model school, why would you mess with such success," said Debbie Bailey, also a Chester Middle School teacher.

The school board is looking at nearly a dozen options. One involves closing Chester Middle and reopening it next year as a 9th grade campus of Thomas Dale High School to ease overcrowding.

Angela Jenkins said if that happens her sixth grader's travel time to and from another school will increase from five to thirty minutes.

"It's just very overwhelming to him. He's wanted to go to Chester since he was in the third grade," said Jenkins.

The group "Save Chester Middle" offered up two options. One involves housing students in the Central Based Gifted program at Davis Middle School.

"It really doesn't matter that they're located where they're located, as much as it does a community school," said Jenkins.

Another involves rotating Thomas Dale 9th graders into open classrooms at Chester Middle.

"All the other pieces, when you add together, does cause some issues with capacity issues, so there is no magic bullet that works," said School Board Chairman, Marshall Trammell.

The school board chair says they will consider all options. A vote on the issue is set for January 12th.

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