OXFORD — A task force advising the Granville County school board is telling it that further school mergers and closings are “required” to make the district more competitive going forward.

Granville County Public Schools has to couple that with an effort to “address root causes” of the enrollment loss the system has incurred over the past decade, the group said in briefing materials for a board meeting coming up Monday.

Task force members said they had discussed the possibility of the system going forward with just two high schools, and of its closing one or even two of the three elementary schools in the southern end of the county that the school board has signaled are prospective consolidation targets.

They said the district has to consolidate more than it already has to free up money and resources for its remaining schools.

“As the district becomes more efficient, more resources will be available to increase opportunities for our students,” their briefing for the board said. “Fewer facilities will mean improved operations and better use of funds to improve capital resources. These efforts will improve outcomes for current students and attract new enrollment, which will increase funding in the future.”

GCPS officials have said Monday’s discussion with the strategic planning task force is a major milestone that’s likely to shape the board’s future deliberations on the consolidation issue, which is on the front burner because many schools have too few students and too little money.

The school board is trying to decide what to do with Mount Energy, Creedmoor and Wilton elementary schools, and with G.C. Hawley Middle School.

The elementary schools have been the focus of a merger debate, while Hawley needs an expensive renovation.

Granville County Commissioners this month balked at the idea of paying to renovate Hawley. They instead urged the school board to close Hawley, merge South Granville and Granville Central high schools, and convert whichever of the two high-school campuses becomes surplus into a middle school.

A new round of consolidation in the southern part of Granville County would parallel the decisions the school board made in 2019 when it closed Joe Toler-Oak Hill Elementary School and Mary Potter Middle School in northern Granville.

The task force briefing stressed, however, that simply closing more buildings isn’t the answer to the district’s problems.

Along with it, officials have to improve “student discipline within schools,” athletic facilities and extracurricular programs, access and resources for the arts, and services to students who are at greater risk of falling behind academically.

The task force also urged improving career and technical education — the modern euphemism for vocational education — in a point some county commissioners also made to the school board earlier this month.

Monday’s school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be livestreamed at https://live.myvrspot.com/st?cid=MDhkZj.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.