A-C board member: “No Virginia merger talks happening”

By Jim McCabe on March 12 at 1:17pm

A member of the A-C Central board of education is disputing a claim that board members are meeting with a new school district to discuss consolidation.

Al Grosboll, a member of a group promoting a merger between A-C and PORTA school districts, stated Monday night during an informational meeting in Ashland that members of the A-C board have contacted Virginia school district officials to pursue consolidation with the fellow Cass County district.

Garrett Savage, who is in his first term as a member of the A-C board, says that’s false.

“Since I’ve been on the school board, we have had no discussions whatsoever with Virginia or, for that matter, any other school district including PORTA,” Savage says. “As far as where Mr. Grosboll gets his information, that’s a mystery to all of us.”

Savage says he and three other A-C board members successfully ran for election on the platform of no consolidation in 2013.

“We have continued since that point to communicate the wishes of our constituents that consolidation’s not in the best interest of A-C Central School District,” he says.

No members of the A-C board- except for Jeremy Garner, who is running for a new board that would form if the merger referendum passes- were at Monday night’s meeting. 

The group “A-C First”, an organization formed to oppose the consolidation which includes A-C board members, also did not attend.

“We were not involved in setting up this meeting that we were supposedly supposed to be involved with. We just didn’t feel like it was in the best interest of our message to be there. Our strategy to get the message out has been through mailing and door-to-door. That’s a letter not from the school board members as a group,” says Savage.

“Because they had questions on their agenda that directly involved future decisions that need to be made with the A-C Central School District, we can’t talk about future business of the school board in a session like that if it’s not a real school board meeting.”

Information provided on A-C First’s website suggests considering merging with the Pleasant Plains school district based on test scores. Several former A-C superintendents and principals have written letters speaking against merging with PORTA.

A-C First also cites a Moody’s credit report that downgraded PORTA’s bond rating last year and states that A-C taxpayers will not see as big of a property tax decrease as the 24.8 percent drop predicted by merger supporters.

The group also claims the school buildings in Ashland will close based on a history of schools closing in the PORTA district outside of Petersburg.

Voters will make a decision in next Tuesday’s election.