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Students attending Gaston Elementary and Gaston Middle schools will be learning together on the same campus starting with the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald of Ahoskie reported Friday.

The Northampton County Board of Education approved a proposal to restructure the two schools at its regular meeting last week.

The consolidated school, which will serve grades 1-8, will be called Gaston STEM Leadership Academy. 

It will be housed on the current Gaston Middle campus while pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will remain at Gaston Elementary in the newer building.

The board was first presented with the consolidation proposal at their meeting in May, but they opted to table the decision until June.

No citizens spoke during a public hearing on the matter.

Marjorie Edwards motioned to approve the decision, and Tony Burnette seconded. The vote passed unanimously in favor.

Northampton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela Chamblee spoke to the News Herald about the change to Gaston STEM Leadership Academy.

“We are delighted to expand curriculum offerings to expose our students to more learning opportunities, project-based learning, field trips, and hands-on activities,” she explained.

A total of 151 students in grades 1-5 will be moved to join grades 6-8 at the new consolidated school.

The recommendation for consolidation was made using data from two feasibility studies, another North Carolina Department of Public Instruction feasibility study, and short- and long-range planning data.

“After much discussion and review of the information,” Chamblee explained, “it was decided to consolidate these two schools in order to save the taxpayers money, to make better use of our physical buildings, and to provide students with more experiences and learning options.”