Locals in the Gaston Point area are questioning the motives behind the talks of potentially closing the elementary school.
The talks of closing Gaston Point Elementary School have been in the works for five years now with meetings taking place over the course of time. Gulfport School Superintendent Glen East said, “We went to two meetings, one at Gaston Point and one at West Elementary. Had 30 to 50 people there.”
PTA member Jeanine Handy said, “Parents and grandparents of this community did not know about them closing the school.”
If the school closes students will move to West Elementary. The plans include a transitional period that would benefit teachers, staff, and students. “For the teachers, it is not a loss. They won’t lose their positions. Then for the kids, they are moving to a new school in our district and their teachers will go with them.”
According to East, within a ten year span, there’s been a decline in enrollment from 320 to 230 students at Gaston Point Elementary. If they decided to close the school, they could save up to $740,000 to $760,000. “So that means we have two teachers teaching 15 or 14 kids whereas the rest of our school district, we want 20-24. So, it’s just the size of the school has gotten to the point that it is costing us money.”
A meeting will take place Thursday at the Gaston Point Community Center where voices can be heard. To the community, Gaston Point Elementary is more than just a school; it plays a crucial role in the area. “The school has been in our community since I was little. We don’t see this school closing. This means too much to us parents that went to school here,” said Handy.
East said, “I appreciate the history. We all do. The size is what’s causing this issue financially. We have to do something to continue to provide excellent teachers for our school district and excellent role models for our kids every day.”