Guilford County Schools superintendent to recommend closing of tornado-damaged Hampton Elementary

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras said Monday she will be recommending the closure of Hampton Elementary to the Board of Education on Wednesday.

Hampton is one of three school buildings severely damaged in the tornado that ripped through East Greensboro in April 2018.

Hampton Elementary students were relocated to Reedy Fork Elementary after the tornado. Both schools were operating at the same location, each with their own principal.

At a news briefing Monday, Contreras said she doesn’t believe enough Hampton students will return to the Reedy Fork location next year.

“It’s no a surprise to anyone that many of the students in that neighborhood already decided to transfer to other schools and not move with Hampton to Reedy Fork," Contreras said. "Since that time we have questioned parents again. Many have said they will not be returning to Hampton, making it very difficult to run a school with less than 50 students, which is what we would've been projecting for the next year.”

If the recommendation to close the school goes through, Contreras says Hampton students will be able to go to places like Reedy Fork, a magnet school or a school in their new zone like Falkener and Simkins.

Overall, Contreras says dealing with the three schools damaged by the tornado has been a tough process. She said insurance companies will not pay to build new schools when the old ones were already in rough condition.

"We are trying to make the best decision that we can for the students and we are trying to work with parents to make sure that they understand the decision-making process," Contreras said. "So much of this has been based on how much funding is available."

Contreras is expecting to reach a settlement with the insurance company in the next month.

She said the school's possible closure does not necessarily mean they will not rebuild at the damaged location.

FOX8 spoke with the principal of Hampton Elementary School, LaToy Kennedy, after she and other staff members returned to the damaged building to take a picture on Monday.

Kennedy was not surprised by the recommended closure. She said it makes financial sense.

Kennedy will become the principal of Wiley Elementary.

Contreras said there are plenty of job openings at GCS for other Hampton employees.

Students who attended the other two tornado-damaged schools, Peeler Open and Erwin Montessori, will remain where they are next year.

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