Two Barbour County schools to close following 2016-17 school year

By Alex Wiederspiel in News
PHILIPPI, W.Va. — Despite protests from parents, the Barbour County Board of Education accepted a recommendation from Superintendent Jeff Woofter to close two elementary schools in Barbour County Monday evening.

“Mt. Vernon and Volga combined have about four percent of our student population,” Woofter said. “And, unfortunately, due to the low enrollment and our funding, we had to have combined grades at both of those schools, which isn’t in the best interest of kids.”

Mt. Vernon ended the year with 57 students. Volga-Century had 37 students. Those numbers were expected to decrease again down from 94 students between the two schools to 88 students.

The move to close Mt. Vernon Elementary School and Volga-Century Elementary School will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Woofter said the move had far more to do with academics.

“We believe financially it’ll be at least $390,000 per year, but the financial consideration wasn’t the main consideration in this case,” Woofter said.

Classrooms were combined for first and second grade students and third and fourth grade students at the schools.

“We’re trying to get twice the content in half the time, and basically we’re just cheating kids when we do that,” Woofter said. “Unfortunately, students that are not on grade level by third grade, research tells us–chances are–they”ll never catch up.”

The Board of Education also voted to amend their Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan, which will allow those students to move to Philippi Elementary School.

“Philippi Elementary is right between Volga-Century and Mt. Vernon,” he said. “Each of those schools will be going about the equal distance.”

Both schools will remain open for the 2016-17 school year, closing upon conclusion of the school calendar year.