GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Three Guilford County schools could shut down and one could become a Montessori school.
Elementary school students would be reassigned to Peck and Foust, both of which will soon have new facilities, and middle school students reassigned to Mendenhall and Kiser middle schools. The facilities for Murphey and Wiley could be repurposed as “swing space.”
Also under this proposal, Archer Elementary School would transform into a Montessori magnet school. This new school would welcome students of Erwin Montessori, who have been sharing space with Alamance Elementary School since a tornado destroyed Erwin’s facility and two others back in 2018.
“There’s a lot of components that we use to come to that decision … For us, it was the age and condition of our facilities as well as small enrollment. Transportation plays a part in it and just being more efficient with our community’s tax dollars,” GCS Chief Operating Officer Julius Monk said.
The Board of Education would hold public hearings for consolidation and school closures on Dec. 12.
The district said in Tuesday’s board meeting that all employees will keep their jobs.
“It’s new to a lot of people. Some folks are very excited, especially about attending new school facilities, but others have a connection to the past as well,” Monk said. “For so long, students that lived in this area have not received bond funds and certainly have not received state-of-the-art schools, so we are able to serve more students with better facilities.
This move comes following a wave of changes across Guilford County Schools in recent years. The $300 million 2020 school bond allowed the district to break ground on six new school projects in August 2022, and the district also recently opened the Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School and closed the Middle College at Bennett.
Here’s a rundown of the most recent changes to schools in the Guilford County district.
Brooks Global Studies School
The district is relocating Brooks Global Studies School from 1215 North Josephine Boyd St. to the site of the former Craven Elementary School at 400 Ashland Drive in Greensboro.
Craven, built in 1955, fell into disrepair and was demolished in 2015 after sitting unused since the late 1990s, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
As of October, the district says crews at the future Brooks Global site are working to install utilities, complete masonry for an elevator shaft and the gymnasium, and waterproof the retaining wall.
Claxton Elementary School
Claxton Elementary School said goodbye to its former 1960-built facility, located at 3720 Pinetop Road, when demolition began in August 2022. Students were relocated to Kernodle Middle School while crews worked to build the new and improved facility at the same site as Claxton’s old facility.
The new facility’s final steel beam was placed during a ceremony on Aug. 24, 2023. As of October, the district reported that work on ducts, sprinkler piping, the parent drop-off curb and gutter and interior framing were underway.
Foust Elementary School
Foust Elementary School, located at 2610 Floyd St., will be resurrected as the Foust Gaming & Robotics School. The old facility, built in 1965, has been demolished, and crews are almost done with underground facilities and are working on electrical ducts, masonry walls and putting up steel.
During construction, pre-K and kindergarten were moved to Murphey Traditional Academy, and grades 1-5 were moved to Jackson Middle School, both of which share a campus two miles away from the Foust site.
Kiser Middle School
While Kiser Middle School students have been attending school at their 1957-built facility at 716 Benjamin Parkway, they’ve been able to watch as their future facility goes up nearby on land that had been Grimsley High School’s baseball and softball fields.
The decision to cannibalize Grimsley’s fields spared Kiser students the disruption of having to switch to a different school but sparked backlash from the Grimsley community. Student-athletes have been forced to relocate their practices and games to fields off campus, like the Greensboro Grasshopper’s First National Bank Field. The district has stated its intention to rebuild the school’s ballfields.
As of October 2023, officials say crews are installing steel and continuing underground electric work at the new school.
Peck Elementary School
Clara J. Peck Elementary School, located at 712 N. Eugene St., is one of the district’s oldest facilities with its main building built in 1929, according to the Greensboro News & Record. Additional buildings were added over the following decades.
The new school, being built on the opposite end of its current property, will still carry the Clara J. Peck name, but the school will be all-new, both in form and function. The re-branded Peck Elementary K-8 Expeditionary Learning School will operate as a magnet school and expand from grades K-5 to K-8.
The new facility’s final steel beam was placed during a ceremony in October. The district says masons are still working on the buildings, and crews are working on steel erection and decking.
Peeler Open Elementary
Peeler Open Elementary, as well as Erwin Montessori School and Hampton Elementary University Partnership Magnet School, suffered heavy damage after a tornado struck East Greensboro in 2018. Peeler students were relocated to Bluford Elementary School, and the facility has not been used since.
On the former Peeler site, the district is constructing Peeler Open Visual and Performing Arts Elementary School. The district held a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 23, 2022, and crews were working on site clearing and erosion control as of March 17, 2023. Construction is expected to be completed by June 2024.
After the tornado, Hampton students were relocated to Reedy Fork Elementary School, and the school board decided in February to turn over the Hampton property to the City of Greensboro.
Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School
The Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School, located at 851 Ferndale Boulevard in High Point, opened on Oct. 5 as a “counterpart” to the Doris Henderson Newcomers School in Greensboro. The school will serve immigrants and refugee students in grades 3 through 11, offering them a transitionary year before moving to a traditional or choice school.
The school, which has been touted as the first school named after a Latina person in North Carolina, started its life in the same building as the Doris Henderson Newcomers School before moving to its new home, a renovated building on High Point Central High School’s campus, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
Middle College at Bennett
The decision to close the Middle College came with the blessing of both Guilford County Schools and Bennett College.
“Both Bennett College and Guilford County Schools are committed to girls’ education and providing opportunities for young women to experience college,” said Bennett College President Suzanne Elise Walsh in a statement. “At this time, the Bennett College restructured semester as minimesters with a block schedule and hybrid model do not perfectly align with the structure and requirements of the school system. We commend Guilford County Schools for their commitment to educating young women and look forward to future opportunities for partnership.”
GCS Superintendent Whitney Oakley added, “One of the benefits of a middle college education is to be immersed in the college environment. After much discussion with Bennett College leadership regarding changes to their on-campus learning experience, we are in agreement that an alternate location is what’s best for the future of our middle college students. We are thankful to our colleagues at Bennett College for their investment in our students over the years and for their continued support of Guilford County Schools.”