Options for Windsor middle-schoolers debated

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WINDSOR—Windsor High School is not equipped to house middle school students while a new middle school is built, two Isle of Wight County School Board members said Tuesday.
During a meeting at the high school with concerned residents, Thomas Griffin and Robert Eley spoke against a proposal to close Windsor Middle School and move students to Windsor High School and two county elementary schools.
Proponents of the plan to close the middle school for two years while a new one is built say it would save the county $900,000 and save on a 25 percent tax increase.
“It could help drop the tax rate down from a 13-cent increase,” supporter Thomas Fenderson said. “The county really needs to address that.”
Fenderson said Windsor High School is only at 66 percent capacity with 491 total students as of January. He said the school was designed to house 800, which is more than enough space for seventh- and eighth-graders.
The proposal suggests that sixth-graders attend either Carrsville or Windsor elementary schools.
Windsor High School was designed to house middle and high school students when it was completed in 1994. Eley said the middle school was renovated shortly after that for sixth-grade students, and the other grades were transported back to the old middle school after the 1995 school year. He said the funding for the school’s construction was cut originally.
“The county cut this school back in 1995 and now they’re paying for it,” Eley said in the meeting. “If anything big comes in here, we’re going to be paying for it.”
Eley, Griffin and Windsor High School Principal Michael Newman said moving middle school students back to the high school isn’t feasible.
For one, the instructional space would be limited. Newman said the school is equipped with 35 classrooms and 15 of those are program specific, meaning they can’t be used for multiple classes.
Griffin said the proposal also did not address a need for middle school cafeteria staff, a middle school administration and other essential needs.
Newman said there would be a problem in bringing together two separate instructional systems. He said the move would be disruptive for students during the short window of time between now and when the new school is completed in January 2013.
“You don’t need to disrupt the learning process like you would with this,” Newman said.
As of January, 327 students occupied Windsor Middle School. Currently there are 249 students at Carrsville Elementary and 626 at Windsor Elementary.