By a 4-1 vote with Matoaca board member Ryan Harter dissenting, the Chesterfield County Public Schools board on March 10 approved an expansion of...

By a 4-1 vote with Matoaca board member Ryan Harter dissenting, the Chesterfield County Public Schools board on March 10 approved an expansion of the Center-Based Gifted Program to Carver and Elizabeth Davis middle schools. 

Gifted middle school students in the Bermuda District currently attend Matoaca Middle School. 

The expansion had been put off for two years. 

Several parents — including Lisa Blevins, Lucas Hill and former board member Carrie Coyner — spoke during public comment in favor of the expansion, although Bermuda resident Melinda Allio and former board member Rob Thompson of Matoaca spoke against it, with Allio asking that it be deferred for another year. 

CCPS chief academic officer Sharon Pope said staff recommended the expansion. 

She noted that Carver Middle School was discussed at the board’s Feb. 11 work session and that Davis Middle School was added after two community meetings in March. 

Rising sixth-graders in the Bermuda District will be able to attend a CBG program in their area beginning this fall, with additional students added in subsequent years. 

Seventh- and eighth-grade gifted students from the Bermuda District will continue to attend Matoaca Middle School this fall.  

Blevins said that her son would have a 9 1/2-hour school day if he attended Matoaca, including 3 hours spent on travel time. 

In advocating for minority students, Coyner said, “Research tells us that giftedness can be developed in children,” noting that they are not necessarily born that way. 

In board discussion prior to the vote, Bermuda District member Ann Coker said the benefits of the expansion far outweigh the concerns and fears. 

Property for staff? 

As part of the consent agenda, the board authorized Superintendent Merv Daugherty to issue a letter of intent to purchase property at 5601 Ironbridge Parkway. 

According to a board document, the property would be used for central office staff. 

Daugherty wants to have the staff in one location. Currently, staff work at 9900 Krause Road and Chesterfield Career and Technical Center @Hull, 13900 Hull Street Road. 

Relocating staff would enable more course offerings at the Career and Tech Center. 

Modular Solutions

Also as part of the consent agenda, the board authorized Daugherty to enter into a construction agreement with Modular Solutions Inc. for $280,240 to move a modular classroom from J.B. Watkins Elementary in Midlothian to the old Matoaca Elementary School.

The modular would be used by students at Ettrick Elementary School, who will temporarily be using the old Matoaca Elementary School at 6627 River Road while a new school is built in Ettrick. 

Modular Solutions had the lowest of two bids.

Schools closed

In an unrelated item, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday, March 13, that all public schools in the state would be closed for two weeks in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.