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Gaston School Board Holds Last Public Hearing Before Vote To Close Schools

Tonight Gaston County Schools is holding the last of several public hearings on a proposal to close two schools in Gastonia and one in McAdenville. The Gaston County school board expects to save nearly $1 million a year by closing two elementary schools, Rhyne and McAdenville, and York Chester middle school. John Chesser with UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute worked with the district to come up with that proposal. He recommends closing the schools because those areas have lost population and aren't likely to gain it back quickly like other parts of the county. "They've had some new growth and subdivisions coming in on the eastern part of the county over in the Belmont and Mount Holly area in particular, but that hadn't really happened as much in other parts of the county," says Chesser. "So over time there was a cluster of western and central elementary schools that were in the neighborhood of 50 percent utilized." He says the three schools were also chosen because they're old and need a lot of maintenance. The district expects it would take $20 million to get the schools up to current building standards. Once the economy improves, the district says it wants to re-open the schools as magnets. The public hearing is tonight at 6 at Gaston College.