Dickenson County Board of Supervisors opposes elementary school consolidation
DICKENSON COUNTY, Va. - A plan to consolidate elementary schools in Dickinson County is on hold, after the county's Board of Supervisors decided to support keeping a three school model.
The three elementary schools in Dickinson County are Clintwood, Sandlick, and Ervinton.
The school board is looking to consolidate to cut costs and move Sandlick out of a flood zone.
Many citizens attended the School Board meeting today to voice their opposition and concerns over possible consolidation.
"Smaller, more intimate settings like at Ervinton post better test scores and show better attendance. And they provide better situations for young children," said Haysi business owner Matthew Ownes.
"Consolidation could lead to long bus rides and over crowded classrooms. Also with consolidation we would have layoffs and be short staffed," expressed Dickenson County teacher, Allison O'Quinn.
She also said combing schools would result in the loss of around 100 students to other county schools.
"You would have students from across the county lines-- Ervinton, Clintwood ans Haysi-- transfer to counties that have closer schools. This county is hills and hollers, and consolidation is really a bad idea," said O'Quinn.
She estimated that losing that many students would cost the county around $800,000 in state funding.
Two years ago, the area's high and middle schools consolidated.
Haysi High School was one of the schools that closed for the move. Small business owners in Haysi now say the town is hurting by the loss of traffic from a community school.
"We used to see people come into town everyday after school-- making purchases and visiting local businesses, and that has since decreased tremendously," said Owens.
"We rely on those people to support their local businesses and community," echoed small business owner Ervin Counts.
They don't want to lose even more business by closing Sandlick Elementary.
A School Board member says consolidation will solve pending issues at the current schools. He says the roof at Clintwood Elementary has been leaking for ten years, and that Ervinton is having difficulty with dehumidifiers and mold.
"In order to have a three school model, you have to fix all of the schools. If you're going to keep Ervinton and Clintwood Elementary, the repairs could run $3-4 million that we don't have," said board member Rick Mullins.
He said the county has about $22 million, but that money is to be spent on moving Sandlick out of a flood zone, not repairing existing schools.
The School Board is now getting quotes on how much consolidating the schools will cost, versus repairing the schools, to see what the best option financially will be.