Board of Supervisors approves plan to convert Chester Middle

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Meg Thalhimer - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chester Middle School is effectively closed for business. The county Board of Supervisors voted four to one to accept a plan that would allow the school to become a ninth grade campus for Thomas Dale High School.

You could call it the final battle in a six month war. The hearing that lasted almost two hours and ended with board of supervisors approval of this report is the proverbial "nail in the coffin" for Chester Middle School.
They fought. They lost.

"It's been a very stressful 6 months. It came as a surprise. We couldn't believe that it was going to happen," said parent Angela Jenkins.

Parents, students and school board members packed the supervisors meeting in a last ditch effort to sway the vote. The county's decision comes down to whether or not the plan to convert Chester Middle to the ninth grade Thomas Dale campus is compatible with the comprehensive plan.

Parents of Chester Middle students maintain it steps away from that vision, will create huge traffic issues in the area and negatively impact Chester residents. But, the school board says there's no more room at Thomas Dale.

Chair Daniel Gecker says when all is said and done, the county board of supervisors can only consider the land use issue.

"I don't think, frankly, that there's any good reasoning for this plan that says it does not comply. That this does not comply with substantial accord. Whether it is the right operational decision is a different issue," said Gecker.

That school board operational decision has continually been called into question, and Wednesday was no exception with accusations of irresponsible politicking being hurled.

But, regardless of which side of the issue you fall on, everyone can agree on one thing- with one vote, education in Chester has drastically changed.

"It will be a huge loss to that community and it will be a loss that community will not recover from for many, many years," said Jenkins.

This decision goes into effect immediately. Starting this fall, if your children were supposed to attend Chester Middle, they'll now be sent to either Davis or Carver Middle schools. And for many of those parents, it's a conclusion they had fought hard to avoid.

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