Chesterfield school board chair reacts to scathing comments

By Matt Butner - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield's school board is reacting today to harsh comments from a county planning commissioner. Those comments came during the commission's meeting last night. It's the latest twist in the controversy over Chester Middle School.

Planning commissioner William Brown didn't mince words, calling for Chesterfield's school board to be swept out of office.

"There's an election coming up in 2011, in November... and in my opinion, all five of them should be replaced," Brown said, prompting applause from those in attendance.

Board chair David Wyman had this to say after we showed him the video clip:

"I appreciate the opportunity to say something here, but I think we ought to focus on the real issue."

The real issue, he says, is the severe overcrowding at Thomas Dale High School-- the issue the board believes it is solving by shutting down Chester Middle. Students will be split between Carver and Davis middle schools, and Thomas Dale 9th graders will move to the Chester building.

"No one likes shutting down a school and splitting it up, but we also realized that there is existing capacity available within our middle schools," said Wyman.

At the planning commission Tuesday night, the plan was narrowly approved. By a 3 to 2 vote, the commission decided the new use of the Chester Middle building is consistent with planning guidelines. Wyman says the vote was unnecessary.

"We believe that the school board has the authority on its own to make the decision that has been made," he said.

The district has already moved forward with the plan-- assigning students and teachers to their new schools, and planning to move the Thomas Dale 9th graders.

"There are some logistics that we have to work out with kids who may have classes both at the 9th grade academy and Thomas Dale High School," said Wyman.

The board of supervisors will take up the issue next for final approval.

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