A stormy Granville County School Board meeting, during which members voted to shutter one school and merge two others, led to shouts of "sellout" and walkouts by protestors.
The board voted to close Joe Toler Oak Hill Elementary School while consolidating Mary Potter and Northern Granville middle schools. All three schools have a majority of black pupils comprising their student bodies.
The board's majority argued that the moves were financially necessary due to decreasing enrollment at all three schools. The declining enrollments are due in part to the growing number of charter schools allowed in the state, which have nearly doubled since the elimination of the 100-school cap in 2011.
"All of us love these schools," District 3 board member Rob Rivers, who voted in favor of the moves, told WTVD Channel 11. "I have lost more sleep over this decision than any decision in my life."
Prior to the vote, it was noted that enrollment at Mary Potter Middle School dropped from 464 students in 2009 to 248 this school year, while Joe Toler Elementary School enrollment decreased from 229 to 187 over the same period. However, anger greeted the decision by the board, with shouts of "shame" and "sellout," and a walkout by some parents and other supporters.
According to the WTVD report, those opposed to the plan argued that Joe Toler is the only school in the northern end of Granville County, meaning that students will have to take an hour-long bus ride to their designated new school at Northern Granville.
"The students that I teach every day have parents who would have to travel 12 to 15 miles for a PTO meeting or for an afternoon agriculture club that meets until 4:30," Toler Elementary teacher Heather Daniel told WTVD.