P.O. Drawer 140, 100 Central Circle
Low Moor, VA 24457
Office (540) 863-1800
PUBLIC HEARING: SCHOOL REDISTRICTING
February 7, 2013 – 6:00 p.m.
Alleghany High School
The Alleghany County School Board held a public hearing on February 7, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at Alleghany High School, Covington, Virginia.
PRESENT: William W. Angle, Vice Chairman; Stacey P. Bryant; Robert A. Fridley; Amber D. Kerns; Patsy G. McKinney; Norman L. Persinger, Jr., Chairman; and Benjamin J. Truett. Also present: Dr. Sarah T. Campbell, Superintendent/Clerk and Lorie C. Bess, Deputy Clerk.
Chairman Persinger called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. The call to order was followed by a moment of silence and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chairman Persinger declared the public hearing open. He asked citizens who wished to address the Board, to use the signup sheet and that names would be called upon in the order they were received.
PUBLIC HEARING: SCHOOL REDISTRICTING
Chairman Persinger read the following guidelines for the public hearing:
1. Citizens wishing to speak should list their name and address on the sign-up sheet.
2. There is a 3 minute time limit for individual comments.
3. Speakers are to provide a copy of their remarks to the Deputy Clerk.
4. All comments should be directed to the Board as a whole, and not to individual members.
5. Board members are not expected to respond to questions or comments.
Jacob Wright (3730 Llama Drive, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition to school redistricting.
Mary Hutchison (8903 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Hello – I’ll get right to the point, as I only have three minutes to fight for our most valuable resource – our children. Boiling Spring School started as a high school in 1927. This newer building built in 1975, the elementary school, has everything studies say are an asset for a learning environment – we are air-conditioned, carpeted, and with plenty of room for the many activities our students participate in.We have an outdoor shelter and beautiful, spacious grounds. Adding to that, we have an excellent body of workers, teachers and support staff, whose main goal is to see to the education and well-being of our students. Boiling Spring Elementary School has been fully-accredited for years. Our small class sizes reinforces the opportunity for a more one-on-one relationship between student and teacher, and it opens doors for any child to take part in the many activities, not always possible in a more crowded environment. Our small school size reinforces a major concern of today’s world – safety. Our staff knows every child, their families, their after-school care, where they are to go each day, who can or cannot pick them up. We give families that extra sense of comfort knowing their children are so closely looked after. All while receiving a top-notch education. Their children are safe, from the moment they board the bus, or walk through our front doors. They are nurtured, they are fed, they are educated, they are cared for. As is the community. Our school cooks meals for the League of Older Americans. Our school provides the clean water for some families in the area. We provide a place for youth sports teams to meet and play. We are a fully accredited school, having met all Virginia Accreditation Standards for ten years, and all Federal Government AYP Standards for seven. We are completely committed to providing a standard of excellence when it comes to educating our youth. It would be folly to throw this all away, to purchase another bus to haul our children away from their surroundings. They would be handicapped due to the distance from everything. As of now, our students are children whose parents, grandparents, families, have all attended this same school. It lends itself to familiarity, to comfort, to pride in their school, pride in their community, and pride in themselves. Thank you.”
Ronnie Richardson (2401 Grafton Street, Clifton Forge, VA) spoke in opposition to school redistricting.
Steve Arthur (5411 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “We understand the budget needs to be balanced, and there are cuts than can and should be made, but closing Boiling Spring Elementary School should not be one of them. The Cropper study was based on addressing school closure while affecting the least amount of children. Closing Boiling Spring would affect our entire community, not just the students currently enrolled. The many preschool children in the area would have to choose between being on a bus for a long time to attend a county school, while passing the school building in their own backyard, or transfer to the city school system, and still have a shorter bus ride than staying within the county. Another possible solution would be to bus some of the children from Brentwood, Jackson Heights, or even the Rich Patch area to Boiling Spring School. That would help with the crowding at Mountain View Elementary School, increase the number of students at Boiling Spring School, and the children would have a shorter bus ride than Boiling Spring children going elsewhere. Fewer children would be affected, which is what the Cropper study was hoping for. Boiling Spring School has lots of space for expansion, both inside and out. Another way to help ease the cost of electricity would be to invest in something green, such as solar panels or a windmill. Potts Creek runs along the back of the school grounds and could possibly be utilized. Our school is the furthest from the others. Our students would be at a disadvantage due to the distance. Many families will continue to request acceptance to the newer Covington school, a building they would have to drive right by in order to attend a school much further away. We will lose students, which in turn means we will lose funding. Our school has highly qualified teachers, a caring support staff, the best in technology, and room to grow. A number of reasons not to close it. Please remember this when making your final decision and look elsewhere to make those cuts. Thank you.”
Erin Stone (4200 Pitzer Ridge Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition to school redistricting.
Tina Conner (13665 Douthat State Road, Millboro, VA) read the following statement: “It seems to me that the board has made up their mind that their only option is schools closures. So, if that is our only options. I believe we have to make the right decision as to which schools. I have reviewed the options placed in front of the board, and do not agree with any of the proposals as written. I don’t see that any of them show a true redistricting of our school system. The options listed are: (1) Do nothing and there is no money to run our schools, (2) Close just Boiling Spring and there still isn’t enough money to operate (3) Close both Boiling and Sharon…. this creates one Mega school. I believe a statement that was said last year was, “I can’t support a decision that did not give aid to Mountain View.” I don’t believe putting almost 700 students in one elementary school would give Mountain View the aid it needs. I believe this move would be setting our children and our faculty up for failure. It would also leave a school operating at only 42% utilization for 2013/2014 school year. Falling Springs utilization will continue to decrease based on the projected decline in that areas population. It also leaves 2 schools open on the western end of the county within a few miles of each other. Closing both Boiling Spring and Falling Spring does show the most equalization of Building Utilization – but it is still not the best solution – without additional moves. No one wants to close any schools, but if the money isn’t there, tough decisions need to be made. If 2 schools have to be closed, I believe it’s in the best interest of our kids, our faculty, and our County’s future to leave your 3 largest schools open, Callaghan, Mountain View, and Sharon. We would have one school open in the eastern part of the county, one in the western part of the county, and one in the middle. All schools would be close to our interstate and would set our community up for growth. The Sharon community is the only community that has, and is projected to continue to have growth. It has the land, resources, and school to make people take a look at our county to bring in businesses and their families. If you leave these schools open, there is still a need for more redistricting instead of just combining schools. Boiling Spring students’ could be moved into Mt. View. I realize there was concern with early bus routes if this would occur. The fix for that is to allow Alleghany High School to utilize the early bus route and the earlier start time. This would actually help our athletic departments in scheduling practices and games and would benefit those students who have after school employment. Mt View could utilize the second bus runs and have a later start time. Most of the Falling Spring district can combine with the district that is closest to their location, which is Callaghan. The students in the Falling Spring district that live closest to Covington line could easily be transported to Mountain View which would cause the least hardships on families. In an effort to further reduce the overload on Mt. View, you can redistrict those students living on the eastern side of the Mt View district to Sharon. The bus route for those students would actually be shorter than their current route to Mt View. All schools would be operating at 70% utilization and there would be less strain on our children and our faculty. In closing, none of the original plans work. We need to look at more options and make smart decisions that are based on the needs of our children, our teachers, and our economic growth.”
Rev. Donald Earwood (100 Parsonage Lane, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Dr. Campbell, Mr. Persinger, members of the board, I am here tonight in support of Boiling Spring Elementary School remaining open. I understand the difficulty facing everyone in balancing the budget, but there are some points that need to be revisited. Boiling Spring Elementary School is indeed a small school, with a small population, but that is one of the main reasons to leave it as it is. That and the fact that it is so isolated. Our students would be at a disadvantage because many would be unable to participate in after school activities. The school was built originally as a high school in the late 1920’s, and we still have many alumni coming back for visits and reunions. There is a strong feeling of family within the community, all centered around a school that many generations of the same families have attended. A quick walk-through does not paint the true picture of what the school means and how much the school accomplishes. The small class sizes allow our students the opportunity to really connect with the teachers and get that extra help if needed. The design of the building makes it easy to move things around, to accommodate different class sizes, and offer room for much of the new technology. The school has many safety feathers, including the locked doors, a locked inner door, cameras both inside and out, and the fact that there are many eyes on each of the children, due to the open rooms. Our school is operating at close to the same percentage as another small school in the county, one that is situation much closer to Callaghan School. If nonresident students were taken out of the equation, it would be an easier fit. I understand you don’t want to lose students, but if you close Boiling Spring Elementary, disrupt our community and bus children so far, you will lose students. It is already happening because of a feeling of hopelessness. Students who live within the Alleghany County Public School district are the ones who we should be focusing on. Thank you.”
Shawn Truett (728 McCormick Blvd., Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “There are many things I would like to say, but because of time limits I will be as brief as possible. First of all I would like to thank Ben, I am so sorry you have to face this task and I hope no one questions you because I have had the good fortune to be a part of the Sharon community for almost 28 years but this is more than just about Sharon, it is also about the families and children in Boiling Spring, Falling Spring, Callaghan, and Mountain View. Over the past several months I researched the pros and cons of schools merging because of economic factors. I recommend that you read “The Impact of School Size” by Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus Roger Ehrich. He points out many interesting facts about school size, particularly those in rural areas. Garbarino and Asp (1981) wrote, “We must always remember that the school is usually the first social system that children encounter. In fact, it may well be the only social system, other than the family, that they know well at all. We must therefore be very attentive to its structure and behavior as a context for socialization.” Garbarino argues that contemporary schools are large because the focus on "cognitive academic curricula" has caused decision makers to ignore social dynamics. Large schools contribute to depersonalization, negativism, alienation, and ultimately truancy and drop-outs. "School size affects student participation and satisfaction independent of the effects of SES and academic ability" (Lindsay, 1982). (“The Impact of School Size” Robert Ehrich) Many long term cost figures are mentioned within the article that are not taken into account during the decision making process. We may be saving money in the short run but not long term. Please take the time to research the impact that this will have on our students. I have heard so many comments like, “They are young and they will adjust”, most research shows the exact opposite. I know that there are many economic factors that you feel need to be addressed, but please remember behind each one of those figures is a child, a family, and a community. Please try not to take the laissez-faire attitude “It is, what it is.” It is only what we allow it to be. Thank you for the opportunity to speak, I know you all have a very difficult decision to make and I respect all of you for your commitment to our children. It was a difficult decision for me to decide whether to speak or not for many reasons but in the end I had to be a voice for the children.”
Renee Warren (1231 Lakeside Place, Eagle Rock, VA) read the following statement: “My name is Renee Warren, and I have taught 33 years in Alleghany County. I am very proud to have taught all of my years in this county, and I am very saddened that we have to close even one of our schools. I have studied and studied the data given, and I cannot find any to support the closing of Sharon school. The only sound data from the Cropper study were the U.S. census population graphs in the appendix at the end of the study, particularly the individual school graphs that were never mentioned in the study. I challenge you to look at them. They show that Sharon school has the only population that is increasing. Our 0-4 population is larger than it was 10-14 years ago. Why would you want to close a growing school that is already the 2nd highest in efficiency (61.9%) and keep open Falling Spring whose efficiency is 48.3% and whose future population graph shows continued decrease. You would have to bus children to Falling Spring to justify it staying open. If you contemplate that action, why not bus the children on the east side of Clifton Forge, just 1 or 2 miles away from Sharon to increase its size even more? I am a kindergarten teacher and our number of JK-K children for next year is 38, 1 less than this year’s enrollment, but this is only February! And these children are from families that we have already called and are definitely of school age and are coming. We never have this number at this time of the year. We are usually still receiving new students in August. Closing a growing school just does not make sense. Secondly, I researched every school in the state of Virginia that has received the Blue Ribbon Award since 2003 – not just public elementary recipients but also middle schools, high schools, and private schools. Not one of them has been closed. Do we want to be the first to close a school of Blue Ribbon status? All of our schools are great, but having a national distinction can help promote our schools to people and companies looking to relocate to our county. Families with small children research the schools. Seeing a Blue Ribbon school can be the deciding factor for them to come to our community. Why get rid of a tremendous resource for county growth? Please do the right thing, and keep Sharon Elementary open for the benefit of our children.”
Jennifer Seckner (307 Evans Lane, Clifton Forge, VA) spoke in opposition to school redistricting.
Patty Honaker (209 Vine Ave., Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “My name is Patty Honaker. I grew up in Alleghany County in the Callaghan area. I’m an engineer at MeadWestvaco, and I live in the Sharon school district. I am here today to urge you to save Sharon Elementary. My family chose Sharon based on its proximity to Salem, which is where my husband works. We just knew we wanted a small school system. At the time we had no idea Sharon was such a wonderful elementary school, but we quickly learned. How lucky were we to stumble on the door of such a high achieving school? I have seen the slides filled with data about how much we will save if we close down each school. Certainly a lot of effort was placed in securing this data, but these figures should not be the only criteria used to determine a school closure. Closing an elementary school is a very serious decision, one that cannot be undone and what does that leave for us to do next year? Assuming our local government doesn’t step up. The state is forcing our hand, so which elementary school should we close? If you look at Virginia’s “report cards” for each of our elementary schools, you find that Sharon’s enrollment has only declined by 10 in the last 3 years (5%). Falling Spring has lost 28 students, or 16% of its population in the last 3 years. Boiling Spring has lost 15 students, or 11% of their population. So are we preparing to close a school with 1/3 the decline in enrollment of ½ the decline in enrollment of the others? It just doesn’t make sense to me. The proximity to I-64, to Roanoke, to Lexington, makes Sharon attractive to people just entering the area. One of the many things we can now boast about is that no matter if you decide to reside in the eastern or western end of the county, if small schools are important to you, we can fulfill your needs. Secondly, please do not get me started about the “Cropper Study”. It has become a laughing stock in my book. These professionals charged us $10,000 of our hard earned money to write an in-depth report to tell us what we should do about our elementary schools, and so obviously didn’t even visit them. How can you study an elementary school and come away completely clueless as to where the playground is? It is beyond my comprehension. Lastly, this is from the news release presented by the school board 5 years ago: ‘The US Department of Education stated Sharon was one of seven Virginia public elementary schools that were recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The Blue Ribbon Schools program honors only about 300 high achieving schools each year. That represents about 0.5% of all schools across the nation. ‘Sharon Elementary School has brought well-deserved national recognition to our entire community’, said Alleghany County school superintendent Bob Grimesey. ‘I also am grateful for the attention the Blue Ribbon award affords to all of our outstanding Alleghany County Schools’, Grimesey added.’ Do we want to be known as the group of people who closed the most successful school in the county, and one of the most successful schools in the country? I know you may be tired of hearing about our Blue Ribbon status. Well, if we close Sharon, you won’t hear about it anymore, and we can’t use this to attract attention to our area, attract parents to our schools. There comes a point in this decision that we need to stop looking at the schools as simply numbers on a spreadsheet and start thinking about the community’s future as a whole. I’ll tell you one thing I will never forget and that is watching $450,000 march out of the room to the tune of new books and buses and only minutes later, finding out the plan was to shut down Sharon elementary because we lacked $450,000 in our budget.”
Brooke Nicely (3404 Longdale Station Rd, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “I’ll never forget the day I took my 4 year old daughter to Sharon elementary School to pick up a fundraiser donation from Mr. Callahan and his wife, Lindsey. As we were walking up the steps I could see the glow in Abigail’s eyes as she said, “Mommy, this is going to be my big girl school.” As we entered the building, she was very anxious to see where she would be eating with her friends, where she would play and where the nurse’s clinic was, because sometimes Mommy gets to work there. My heart was filled with sadness because for several years every time we passed Sharon school I would tell her with excitement that this was going to be her big girl school and I knew that day that Sharon was at that time 1 of 2 schools facing possible closure. My name is Brook Nicely. I am 30 years old and a resident of the Sharon community. I share 2 daughters with my husband, Jason Nicely. Abigail is 4 years old and Jaycee is 1. The current redistricting proposal involving the possible closure of Sharon is very concerning for my family. My husband currently works for CSX and has been a soldier for the U.S. Army for 15 years and I am a registered nurse. Both of our careers have continued to give us many opportunities to relocate to larger cities for better job options. Both Jason and I have lived outside of Alleghany County but we both returned to the Sharon district for the same reason, to start and raise our family in a smaller community setting. One of our highest priorities as parents is to give our children the opportunity to experience all of the many benefits of a small school. We both know these very well from our own personal childhood school experiences. The Deficit Reduction Option that includes the closure of Sharon school based upon decreasing enrollment and low building utilization is not justified based upon the calculations provided by the school board. For the 2012-2013 school year, Sharon has the 2nd highest enrollment and 2nd highest building utilization. Sharon also has the 2nd highest projected JK-K enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year. Sharon is the only area in the county where the 0-4 population is actually larger than the 5-9 population, 10-14 population and possibly the 15-19 population. Based upon this information, Sharon is facing an incoming student population larger than any in the last 15 years. This information only proves that Sharon is not the best option for the Deficit Reduction Option and furthermore, the school board will face tougher challenges in the future if it is closed. The current proposal option to merge Sharon and Mountain View Elementary schools, the 2 largest schools in the county, will lead to overcrowding and an increased safety risk. This proposal will place Mountain View at a very high utilization rate with little room for attendance growth in the eastern end of the county. Mountain View cafeteria currently seats 270 people (18 of these seats are chairs at round tables that currently seat teachers). My concern is the lunch times that will be required to serve 665 children. If large groups are served at a time, lack of supervision will be a safety hazard and overcrowding will lead to children not getting an adequate lunch. If broken down into smaller lunch groups requiring multiple lunch times, many children will be forced to eat a very early or very late lunch. Mountain View currently has high traffic congestion during the morning and evening school hours. The majority of this traffic comes from the eastern end of the county where the Mountain View students reside. With the addition of 182 students and the traffic including buses and car riders, the already dangerous traffic congestion coming from the ester end of the county will be critically hazardous. I stand here tonight very disappointed in the manner that this situation has been handled. I have always put my faith and trust in our appointed officials and most importantly, those who held the key to the future of my children’s education. I hold you all to a high standard of professionalism. I ask that you carefully consider the information provided to you in the Cropper GIS study as I, among many others, have found it very troubling. This presentation was vague and the study is neither valid nor reliable. I am asking each board member to closely look at the information that you have been given and use your own professional judgment to make a sound decision. Give our community a faithful and honest decision based upon facts and what is truly best for our children’s education. Thank you for your time and allowing me to share my concerns.”
Cullen Truett (Roanoke College, Salem, VA) This statement was read by Jan Hobbs: “I am writing today to state a simple truth. That the closing of small schools in our community is a fatal mistake and a disregard for quality education. As a small, rural area, we should pride ourselves that we still have these outposts of small class size and more individual attention of our students, for these are rare and valuable traits even in higher academia. As an alumnus from a small Elementary school, I believe that individualized education that I began there instilled in me the skills and traits that made me a competitive student later on. I held the values that our small area school instilled in me, and continue to do so today. I opted not to attend a large public university and chose instead to attend a small liberal arts school, where I could further continue to thrive as a successful student. I have made connections, built relationships, and had experiences that made me a marketable candidate for medical school admission. I truly believe that my ultimate journey to be accepted to three medical schools began with the skills and atmosphere of our school system. In fact, of all the medical schools, I again chose the one that had the smaller atmosphere and the more individualized attention. If we want the children of Alleghany County to continue to reach for the stars and achieve beyond their wildest dreams, we need to provide them with the proper learning environment. Instead of thinking with our wallets, we need to think of the sacrifices we should make on behalf of quality education for the children. This is not a quick fix. Nor should it be. We need to think of the long term. Even as a scientist there are times when it is necessary to let go of the quantitative data and think more qualitatively. We have a unique opportunity to preserve something great. I fear that if you make any other decision that you risk the future opportunities for the children of Alleghany County. I look around at my own classmates from Sharon Elementary, many of whom who are now nurses, graduate school candidates, business people. All ambitious in their own way because they had an environment that was conducive to chasing their dreams and being nurtured. Please do not take that opportunity away from future generations in the county.”
Teresa Reed (5211 Castile Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition to school redistricting.
Jessika Crance (136 Falcon Ridge Road, Clifton Forge, VA) This statement was read by Jan Hobbs: “The decision to close Sharon School is one that would make my life easier. But, I can’t say the same for my 7 year old. I have not yet been shown facts that would change my answer to yes. My daughter is in the 1st grade. She has attended Sharon Elementary for two years. In that two year period she has made friendships with students that will last her a lifetime. The teachers at Sharon know most or all of the students in the building regardless of whether they have taught them or not. Fifth grade teachers know the Kindergarteners. I appreciate the fact my daughter feels like every teacher in that building knows her by name and cares about her. Will she still have that in a bigger school? I honestly don’t think she will. Are the other schools in the county quality schools? Of course they are. Will my daughter continue to receive a quality education in another school? Yes, I believe she will. Will the class sizes be larger? Of course they will, and that will impact every child regardless of how wonderful the teachers are. Research shows smaller class sizes are better for children, especially in the Elementary years. Smaller classes allow teachers to connect more with individual students and families. Parent-teacher communication is shown to be improved in classrooms where the student to teacher ratio is smaller. Students in smaller classes have also been proven to me more tolerant of each other and of students with disabilities. This is a HUGE social benefit for everyone. In a larger classroom there are more behavior problems. The actual time a teacher is able to teach her students is reduced due to behaviors that are bound to occur when you put 25 kids in a room. No matter how great the teacher is, it is difficult to keep track of individual student progress when you have so many students. I feel one benefit of Sharon School is that when I see my daughter’s teacher and have a question regardless of where we are, she is able to answer without having to go flip through a file or consult a folder or data. There have been no concrete facts presented that justify the closure of Sharon Elementary School. Information presented to the public in the Cropper Utilization Study was clearly based on opinion rather than sound, rational information. If school capacity, student population, and projected growth rate were the criteria used to close schools why is Sharon School being selected as an option to close? Sharon already has a high projected growth rate and has the second highest population in the county Elementary Schools. How would combining the two largest elementary schools be beneficial to the students, faculty, and school building? Thank you for your time.”
Pawan Kumar (716 Jefferson Street, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “Dear respected board of directors and teachers, school staff members, and parents: I wish closing school was the solution to the problem.Because of declining population in the area, it may be in a few years that people might migrate from Alleghany County and then you will have to close Mountain View Elementary School too. As a matter of fact, my friend left from the area because of the level of education. I have no problem with Mountain View Elementary School but putting too many kids in one school will create a lot of other issues, it may or will impact the kids that need more attention from teachers and staff. These kids need proper attention from teachers and staff. The school system is not a business, it is a process to build a strong community and that community builds a strong nation. It is very important to have a strong community and better education can do that by having proper guidance of teachers and staff. Why don’t we concentrate to lift up the level of education so we can see some incline in the population in the area? What we have done in this particular area? I also recently found that Mountain View Elementary School is in a flood zone. I am planning to buy another house in Sharon’s area but if the school gets closed then I might think about migrating from the area. I am not sure the solutions we have made so far to save the future of our kids, other than just closing school and meeting the school budget. Again, it is not the question of closing or opening schools, but is the question of the future of the kids that are going to build this nation. Remember, education is for human excellence. Thank you.”
Randy Tucker (3603 Jackson River Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: Mr. Chairman and School Board members, my name is Randall Tucker and I live at 3603 Jackson River Road. I am here tonight to share some of my thoughts with you about a couple of the school board decisions that have caused me great concern about the future of our school system. First I have served in the same capacity as each of you does today as a member of the Alleghany County Public School Board including the role as chairman. As board members, you are charged with protecting the interest of the children, employees, and all of the stakeholders in the county. The educational opportunities that the board is responsible for providing the children of Alleghany County is the single most important contribution that you and our community will make to their future. A few years ago our previous superintendent and the school board had a vision for our county. We questioned all of the “what if’s” the future could hold for the school system. This included renovation of the elementary schools, building a new high school, growth of the area, and of course the negatives were not left out, including possible closure of a school or schools due to enrollment decline. As you can imagine the most difficult challenge was the development of a plan outlining the closing of a school. This was not done in a couple of months, six months, or twelve months.
Why, you ask? How could it take so long to determine what school to close when it was done last year by just looking at Google Earth and dividing the school population into those areas where they saw fit?That is like trying to put a very large square peg into a very small round hole. It just does not fit. So what criteria could have possibly been used to make this decision before? Well Google Earth did not make the cut. So what did? Here is just a very few of the questions: (1) Economic impact on the county including business development –buildings will be kept where future development potential is (Sharon) (2) Added value for the possibility of obtaining grants for improvements to the community where the buildings are located (Sharon) (3) Potential loss of students from the system=$$$ (Boiling Spring) (4) Is the building population declining or increasing? (5) Proximity to an existing facility to be combined with. And the list goes on. So then the question was answered, what school should be shuttered – the answer is not the first two schools that you were considering closing last spring. If the board is paying any attention to what is starting to happen in the county, I caution you to not close the Boiling Spring School as this has the potential to cost the school system many dollars. In the future, if any additional buildings need to be shuttered you have time to make a fact based decision and not do a knee jerk reaction. You need to think like a carpenter preparing to cut a board – you measure twice – cut once. Second, get back your integrity. What the board did at the end of the 2011-2012 school year to its employees and the community appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to dismantle one of the most successful small school divisions in Virginia in one sweeping motion. I could not begin to comprehend the disruption you created among the employees and residents of Alleghany County. What were you thinking? Have you forgotten about the “no surprise policy” that has been in place for the last 10 plus years and has served the school board so well? In closing, Mr. Chairman I would encourage you to work with the Board of Supervisors to restore that relationship that the school board had previously enjoyed in the past as it will be beneficial to all in the future. And yes, you can agree to disagree. I thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you tonight.”
Bob Donnan (206 Gilpin Ave., Covington, VA) spoke in opposition to school redistricting.
Chairman Persinger thanked everyone for their comments and declared the public hearing closed. He reminded citizens of the second public hearing on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at Alleghany High School.
MOTION: That the Alleghany County School Board public hearing be adjourned.
SECOND: Mrs. Kerns
TIME: 7:00 p.m.