Giles County Public Schools hold public discussion on facility improvement plan, parents share concerns

Local News

GILES COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – New changes may be coming to Giles County Public Schools (GCPS), and parents are making their opinions known.

The school board held their first community-wide meeting at Narrows High School on March 9.

Hundreds of parents packed the high school’s auditorium, lining along walls and standing by doorways.

The informational meeting was an opportunity for parents to get a closer-look into the school district’s Facility Needs Assessment, a detailed facility analysis in order to determine the best education for students and cost-saving options for the school system.

The survey is being conducted by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates (CRA), a full-service architectural firm which specializes in public school design. Representatives from the firm were in attendance to review their process and determine the guiding principles that will govern the survey.

The multi-step process includes looking at current building infrastructure, exterior envelope, facility systems, and building codes to determine the building needs for the next twenty years. The study will also look at the educational and program needs for the six schools, determining current usage of each building, educational adequacy and efficiency, student centered learning environments, equity and parity. Space needs will also be reviewed looking at historic, current and future enrollment, rated capacity and overall space needs for the Division’s schools.

Based on the conclusions, a series of facility improvement options will be developed to meet immediate, near-term future needs, and long-term needs.

The process is anticipated to take approximately six months for final completion.

According to a 2018 Giles County Public Schools Facility Evaluation and Efficiency Review, one recommendation included merging Giles High School and Narrows High School and reorganizing grade structures.

Many parents took the stand to voice their opinions during public comment, which lasted for over two hours.

“If you were at any of our schools, you would find passion in any of our schools, for their schools and communities because each school has their own identity. Each school has their own family and tight-knit community within that school and within that community,” says Dr. Terry E. Arbogast II, Giles County School Superintendent.

Nevertheless, no transformative decisions had been made.

“At this time, there have been no recommendations made, no options provided to the board. They’re still in the very early phases of the evaluation of our schools. They have been in. They have looked at the schools. They’ve evaluated just the overall structure of the buildings,” says Dr. Arbogast II.

Schools officials say the next steps include scheduling one-on-one meetings with principals and teachers in observation of each school’s educational needs.

The second community-wide meeting will be held March 18 at 7 p.m. at Giles High School, located at 1825 Wenonah Ave in Pearisburg, VA.

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