GASTONIA -- Gaston County could soon see three of its under-filled schools shuttered amid budget pressure and anger from some parents.
Nearly 24 parents and students gathered at McAddenville Elementary School Saturday evening to sing Christmas carols and protest the move. A similar vigil was held Saturday morning at Rhyne Elementary, with about a dozen participants.
The Gaston County School Board is looking at whether to close McAddenville and Rhyne, as well as York Chester Middle School.
"Not a person that I've talked to has thought that this is a good idea. Everyone is up in arms about it, they're fighting for it. They don't want it," said said PTO President of Rhyne Elementary Allison King.
According to a report by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, closing each of the schools could save the district $300,000 a piece. The schools are all about 60-years-old and that increases the costs of maintenance.
"How old they are and how much does it cost to keep the schools safe for our children?" said Gaston County School Board member Alfred Current. "When I say 'safe,' I mean - do we have a roof over their head that isn't going to fall in?"
King said they were demonstrating Saturday to help raise awareness. Although the school district has held public forums for weeks, she said some parents might not be aware of the potential closings.
"We're a more low income neighborhood and people don't get out of their house as much. Cable TV is not a big thing for them a lot of times," said King. "So getting the word to them is a door-to-door option, to take it out to them."
The report from the Urban Institute noted that the targeted schools are under-filled, so consolidating them with other under-utilized schools can help the school district realize savings.
The School Board will hear public comments at its meeting on Monday night.