MEADOW BRIDGE - Dozens upon dozens of residents gathered Thursday night to voice their concerns to the state and local school board about Meadow Bridge High School's future.
The State Board of Education and Fayette County Superintendent Keith Butcher held a forum to discuss what the proposed plans for the school are and to give community members the chance to share their opinions.
Meadow Bridge High School teacher Mark Gladwell was pleased with the large community turnout at the meeting. "It just speaks volumes of what we are, which is a community school," he explained.
Fayette County Schools are in intervention status with the state. The Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) for the county originally called for Midland Trail, Fayetteville and Meadow Bridge High Schools to be consolidated. An amendment
that was approved on October 9 calls for Meadow Bridge High School to be removed from this plan for one year in order to complete a study of how best to educate those students.
State Board of Education President Gayle Manchin explained Meadow Bridge residents need to look toward the future to determine a compromise that would be best for students. She said many counties across the state are dealing with similar issues and several have already consolidated. "We really have to start looking at where our pockets of population are and make sure that we have schools in those pockets of population to serve the children," Manchin said.
Superintendent Keith Butcher explains student enrollment at the high school has decreased during the past 30 years, so finances and funding are an issue at hand.
But many parents think education would suffer if the high school is consolidated. "(Meadow Bridge) teachers know who's at risk and who's not and they go that extra mile to help," said parent and elementary school teacher Angela Gilkerson.
Casey Rash, a junior and a member of the student council, feels the town's identity would be lost if the high school is eventually forced to consolidate with the county. "If (the students) move to a different school, they might be simply just outcasts," he said.
Butcher also explained a proposed amendment to the CEFP to revise the school plan from a pre-kindergarten to grade 6 school to a pre-kindergarten to grade 8 facility. Many residents expressed shock at this plan and announced they were against it.
Officials are going to study Meadow Bridge High School for one year, until next October, to determine how best to educate the students - and whether or not to consolidate.