Randolph County Superintendent uncertain of where Homestead and Valley Head students will move after 2017

By Alex Wiederspiel in News
ELKINS, W.Va. — The process of closing two elementary schools in Randolph County begins this week, but could take more than a year.

The Randolph County Board of Education voted to close Valley Head Elementary School and Homestead Elementary School after the 2016-17 school year is completed due to a variety of problems.

“The number one priority to this school system is to make sure that our students are going to school and that they have a safe environment in which to learn,” Randolph County Superintendent Pam Hewitt said.

Valley Head faces significantly declining enrollment. Current projections estimate only 29 students will attend next year.

“Just the very cost of keeping that building operational for that number of children is a concern,” Hewitt said.

At Homestead, there are 118 students from Pre-K through 5th grade, but the building is more than 75 years old and needs upgrades in it’s roofing, electrical system, plumbing, and windows.

“That building was built in 1939, and it’s just in need of major repairs and upgrades that will be very expensive to make,” Hewitt said.

Addressing the issues at Homestead would require dealing with asbestos problems as well–making it more practical to close the school according to Hewitt.

“I just want parents to rest assured that their children are our most important resource and our number one priority, and that as we work through this process we’re going to do everything we can to make certain that their needs are being met,” she said.

Hewitt said the decision to close Homestead is a bit easier because of the proximity of the school to George Ward Elementary and Beverly Elementary. Both are around six miles from the school in opposite directions.

Still, Hewitt said a decision on where students will eventually go will require feedback from parents and teachers.

“As we work through that process, we will certainly incorporate the feedback and the input from the parents and from the staff, the community,” she said. “We’ll take all of that into consideration before any final decisions are made as far as where those children will be going to school.”