Consolidations and Closures Recommended for Several Boone County Schools

By Hillary Hall, Reporter

After closing three schools, laying off nearly 80 employees, and voting through substantial pay cuts to personnel for the 2016-2017 school tear, many in Boone County, WV didn’t think things could get any worse.

In their October 17th meeting, the Boone County Board of Education discussed the possible closure and consolidation of schools for the 2017-2018 school year.

“Here we are again making the same decisions and facing the same issues. It seems like that changes that were made last year were all in vain,” said Leticia Lovejoy, a former teacher with Boone County Schools.

Board members voted to move sixth grade students from Whitesville, Sherman, and Ashford Elementary Schools to Sherman Jr. High starting next year to save money.

They are also recommending the complete closure of Whitesville elementary, moving remaining students to Sherman Elementary School.

On October 18th, the Boone County BOE plans to address employees of Van area schools to recommend making the district Pre-K through 8 while sending high school students to Scott High for the 2017-2018 school year.

Teachers who spoke at the meeting say closing schools could cause irreversible damage to communities. They believe other options should be explored first.

“Impoverished areas, in particular, like the Whitesville area and the Van area, most often benefit from smaller schools. They can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs,” said Lisa Lovejoy, a teacher at Van Jr. Sr. High.

According to Superintendent Jeff Huffman, tax revenues already on the downturn in Boone County this year.

He feels that, much like last year, more cuts will need to be made in order to meet the 2017-2018 budget.

“Next year with the loss of revenue we have to look at every option in order to reduce expenditures. It is very likely that we could see reductions in personnel,” said Superintendent Huffman.

The Boone County Board of Education must officially vote on school consolidations and closures by December 31st. Before then, they will hold public hearings on closures.

Superintendent Huffman says, if more employee layoffs are required, letters would go out sometime in February.