Parents protest proposed Gaston school closings - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Parents protest proposed Gaston school closings

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GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) A mother of a 7th grade York Chester Middle schooler told school board members she feels children are being looked at as dollar signs.

Karen Turner says she spoke for the handful of other parents in the room who oppose the closure of three Gaston County schools as a way to save money.

"I think it's a big mistake to close these schools and make it even hard on children that may not have a lot of advantages," Turner said of the children who attend Rhyne Elementary and York Chester.

An in-depth study by UNC-Charlotte's Urban Institute recommended closing York Chester Middle School as well as Rhyne and McAdenville Elementary Schools to save at least $25 million.

Andrea Cutchin is a sixth grader at York Chester Middle School.

"I wake up every morning feeling excited to see my friends again and see my teachers and do my work," said Cutchin. "I've made a lot of friends over the time, and it's really exciting."

Andrea's mom, Monica Cutchin has seen all three of her children move through the ranks at York Chester.
"York Chester has a dynamic staff," said Monica. "They have involved parents. It's a really good group of kids there."
She said the school is tied to a sense of community in the area, and she plans to fight the proposed closing.
"I would be disappointed if we said we might close a school and nobody was upset," Superintendent Reeves McGlohon said.

Still, McGlohon thinks it's a proposal that has to be looked at. It's not the only option being considered he says, but the board is looking at any option to squeeze dollars and provide a quality education.

Turner says she understands budget issues, but wants to see the breakdown of the numbers from that study, saying messing with the students isn't the way to go.
Instead she thinks redistricting might help fill up the undeniably underutilized buildings.

"I think no matter where your child goes in Gaston County, they will be met by a teacher that cares for them, who will do the best to meet their needs and I think all of our schools offer an outstanding education," McGlohon said.

McGlohon says IF the closures happen teachers will be moved to other schools. There's still more informational meetings to be held. Some parents have already signed petitions and created websites to gain support in their fight.

Plenty of other parents and students are in the fight too.  Over the weekend, one group held a vigil in the name of keeping McAdenville Elementary School open. Parents there said they planned to voice their opinions to the school board Monday night.

A final decision by the school board is expected January 17.
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