Montgomery mayor furious over plans to close local high school

By Chris Lawrence in News
MONTGOMERY, W.Va. — The state Board of Education’s approval of a consolidation plan for the Fayette County school system was another body blow to the city of Montgomery.

“The knife was sticking in our chest and they just reached down and twisted the handle,” said Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram.

The consolidation plan will include the closure of Valley Fayette High School in nearby Smithers, across the river from the town which has already seen the loss of WVU Tech in the past year. Ingram however, is geared up to continue the fight against closure of Valley Fayette. He’s tried to be positive with with BridgeValley Community and Technical College and the promise of the future establishment of a KVC Health Systems campus in his town.

“We’re certainly very fortunate we have two colleges in Montgomery,” he said. “We need a high school there.”

However, he admits if they can’t win the fight to save Valley-Fayette and the area’s students are sent to Riverside High School in Kanawha County, it would be grounds for drastic action.

“Those residents can’t vote in Kanawha County, so I certainly wouldn’t count out the prospects of seceding from Fayette County and becoming 100 percent Kanawha County,” the mayor said.

Presently the county line runs through the middle of Montgomery. The Mayor is miffed at the prospect county leaders in Fayetteville won’t advocate preserving the local school and is ready to take alternative action.

“I have to make sure that’s what our citizens want, but I’ve already asked the Kanawha County Commission that question,” he said. “If Fayette County doesn’t want our kids, they don’t need our money either.”

There may be considerable legal entanglements to adjust the county boundary. However crossing county lines to attend school isn’t unprecedented in West Virginia. Some of the student body at Chapmanville Regional High School in Logan County is from Lincoln County and some students from Bruceton Mills in Preston County attend University High School in Monongalia County.