T.C. Walker School closing proposed to cut costs

by Kim Robins - Posted on Feb 01, 2012 - 04:11 PM

Photo: A proposal by Gloucester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ben Kiser would have T.C. Walker Elementary School shutting its doors next year to save the division approximately $2.7 million. Photo by Kim Robins.

A proposal by Gloucester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ben Kiser would have T.C. Walker Elementary School shutting its doors next year to save the division approximately $2.7 million. Photo by Kim Robins.

A proposal to close T.C. Walker Elementary School drew the most comment last Thursday, as the Gloucester County School Board began its efforts to cope with an expected $3.8 million budget reduction for fiscal year 2013. Closing Walker would save the school division approximately $2.7 million, according to division superintendent Ben Kiser.

The school closure was one of several budget trimming suggestions Kiser introduced during the board’s budget work session held at Walker, but it was clearly the most unexpected and controversial. Named after one of Gloucester’s most well known black natives, the Walker campus has a unique legacy and, in recent years, a reputation for a nurturing staff and outstanding academic performance.

In making the proposal, Kiser described the Walker staff as "a community, a family, with good leadership. That’s why it gets the results it does. Certainly, the results in this building are some of our best. But I think we’re at a point where we can consider this."

Kevin Smith, the board’s only black member, said he would not support closing a school in exchange for the savings. "There’s no way I can see us close a school for $2.7. There’s also a great legacy behind T.C. Walker. I couldn’t personally agree to it, never," Smith said, suggesting the county could cover the $2.7 million shortfall.