P.O. Drawer 140, 100 Central Circle
Low Moor, VA 24457
Office (540) 863-1800
PUBLIC HEARING: SCHOOL REDISTRICTING
February 9, 2013 – 3:00 p.m.
Alleghany High School
The Alleghany County School Board held a public hearing on February 9, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at Alleghany High School, Covington, Virginia.
PRESENT: William W. Angle, Vice Chairman; 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.
ABSENT: Stacey P. Bryant
Chairman Persinger called the meeting to order at 3:00 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.
Michele Downs (4218 Nicelytown Road, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “I want you to know we understand that this is an emotionally difficult decision you must make. I am not here to point a finger at the cause of this crisis; I am not here to compare Sharon against any other school or the outstanding teachers at those schools. I am here before you today asking that you please consider (1) what Sharon adds to the Alleghany Highlands, (2) the economic impact of closing schools, and (3) our frustration endured over the past year. There has been a lot of data, numbers, reports and counter reports going around blurring what I feel should be the ultimate goal of this board, this school system, and this community. That is a safe excellent education for our children. I know my child receives this from our Blue Ribbon School of Sharon Elementary. Sharon has many accomplishments: (1) 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School Award, (2) Board of Education Excellence Award, (3) Board of Education Competence to Excellence Award, and (4) Awarded as Title I Distinguished School. If Mountain View had these achievements, I would not be here today arguing against closure. For the last year, I have seen and heard a great deal about the school budget but never once heard from anyone or received for myself, a detailed budget. I say this because if you are truly committed to the best option you must first start with a detailed budget review. Businesses do this all the time. Economically you are about to make one of the most important decisions in this community’s history. The decision you make will have consequences such as, you will lose some great educators, and you will lose their incomes and potentially their spouse’s income in the community. You will lose the funding you receive for my child (and many others I’m sure) because we will move him to another school district. You will lose dollars spent at local businesses because we will either move or it will be more convenient to shop where our child is going to school. Most of what you are hearing today and over the last year is the frustration we the parents and community members are feeling because with the exception for these meetings, we are not being heard. Who is here to listen to us? I personally have contacted state and federal representatives who have shown minimal interest at best and in my conversation with Creigh Deeds he stated he won’t get involved. The state board of education says it’s a local matter and Michelle Obama won’t return my email. On top of this, I hear the county blaming the school board, and the school board blaming the county. In summary, all of our schools have great attributes among Sharon’s is the distinguished Blue Ribbon School Award and many other awards that we are very proud. By closing schools you will begin a spiral effect that will cause residents to leave and deter newcomers. In closing, the best we can expect is collaboration of federal, state, and local governments with the school system and the communities to save our precious schools. The reality is that we won’t get any support from the federal or state, leaving the county and county school board, the county school system leadership and members of the community to create a solution. I urge you to talk with us, not to us. If you want community support for your decisions, then give us a seat at the table. Thank you for this opportunity to be heard.”
Mike Warren (123 Lakeside Place, Eagle Rock, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Margaret Stapleton (1227 Callie Mines Road, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “I am a retired teacher. I taught at Sharon Elementary School for 38 years. I have always called the children I’ve taught my “babies”. Billy Angle is one of my “babies”. Do not run away from me, Mr. Billy! Another one of my “babies” wrote an excellent critique of the Cropper Utilization Study of Alleghany County Public Schools. Her name is Ashlee Warren. She enumerates many flaws and omissions in the study. Here are some points of eminent importance: Sharon is the only area in the county where the 0-4 population is actually larger than the 5-9 population. It is also larger than the 10-14 population. Therefore, Sharon is actually facing an incoming student population that is larger than any in the last 15 years. Another current fact is that Sharon’s JK class actually increased by 44%. She asks, “Are the interpretations based on the data obtained?” She states, “Some data obtained is completely ignored while the study does select data that it wants to use for interpretation. Therefore, the study brings for the researcher’s desired results.” The way I interpret that is that the company went into the study with conclusions already drawn! What a travesty! The Cropper researcher notes that the recommendations seek to minimize the disruption of students. How sweet! The impact of closing schools is a huge disruption to small children! And which schools do they choose to close? The smallest and the second largest! And now they are talking about Falling Spring School. Ashlee Warren concludes her critique with the following statement. “If these recommendations were to be followed, many implications would arise that the researcher does not mention. Two communities in the county would no longer exist. Now, it would be 3 communities with Falling Spring. Sharon, the only Blue Ribbon School in the county, would be closed. Busing expenses would increase, potentially offsetting money saved by a school closure. Growing student population in the eastern end of the county would cause more and more busing, adding to the school system’s expenses. Many students would likely leave the school district to attend Botetourt County or Covington City, or Bath County schools causing the school system to lose funding from the government.” I want to latch on to the term “community”. Sharon, Boiling Spring, and Falling Spring schools are not just schools. No, they are part of a community! A community is a fellowship. Why would you try to destroy such an important companionship that is the right of all like-minded people? Sharon School, which I know best, is filled with teachers that care. They are dedication to their kids and the subjects that needs to be taught. I grew up in Charlottesville, but I know when I started to apply for a teaching position that I wanted to be in the mountains. I have thanked God every day that I came to Alleghany County and especially Sharon School. You have a moral obligation to keep all schools open. Thank you.”
Randy Robertson (217 Williams Road, Hot Springs, VA) read the following statement: “Dear Dr. Campbell and members of the Alleghany County School Board: I have reviewed several key factors in your proposal to close Falling Spring Elementary School. After careful study of the facts on the school, I feel it is unwise and not logical to proceed with this decision. The impact on the students and the community and county will be devastating. Falling Spring Elementary has been in existence since 1890 in which it was originally called the Barber School. It later became Falling Spring Elementary in 1928. I enclosed a copy of the historical facts about this school for your records. In general it has been at this location for 123 years. This is an accomplishment in itself and it is a fully accredited school on both federal and state. It has seen several improvements over the years; the last was in 2004, which we are still paying for. I have grown up in the area all my life, except for my years in the military and various other jobs. I moved back here in 1997 to raise my children in a school that is safe and an environment that is positive and supportive. In looking at the SOL test scores for the past five years (2008-2012), I cannot understand how you can possibly want to close a school with the rating and test scores that exceed the standards and average of other schools in the state. Teacher and atmosphere are the key factors in developing positive behavior in children. Why would you close any school with scores like these? It is beyond my comprehension. This will ultimately sign this county and community’s death certificate. Because how can you expect people to stay or move here when the only answer to a budget crisis is to close down schools? We need to keep Falling Spring Elementary open for the historical value, the children that are benefitting from the excellent learning atmosphere and the future development of this community and county. Here are some of the problems that will occur if this comes about: (1) While at the present time buses are traveling a short distance from the routes to the school, with the present gas prices, expenses will double in costs with longer routes (2) The wear on the buses and the costs of repair and replacement (3) having excellent and superb teachers leaving the area to find work (4) Longer rides for younger children causing exhaustion and failing grades (5) Families that transport their children on the way to work will have to find other solutions to this problem and may result in leaving the area for convenience. This will cause decline in population (6) The main solution to this problem is not closing schools, it is the county’s being proactive in bringing corporations to better increase the population and this will bring young people back and make this an attractive place to live (7) If we close schools in outer areas, this eliminates the choices people have on where to live. Do we really want to increase the problem? I moved back to this area to raise my children near their relatives and in a community that has very few crime issues and for the positive learning environment and I gave up several good job prospects and took in consideration my children’s’ best interests. I employ that you do the same and consider the effect it will have on the children. Thank you!”
Tina Keyser (4215 Forty Two Road, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “My name is Tina Keyser and I live at 4215 Forty Two Road in the Sharon area. I have two sons, ages 3 and 7, that are presently enrolled at Sharon Elementary School. I am a graduate of Alleghany County schools and Dabney College and have lived in Alleghany County all my life. I presently work in Botetourt County. My husband is a graduate of Bath County. When my first born became old enough for school, the decision of where to send him was not easy. My husband wanted our kids to go to Millboro Elementary in Bath County. I was very adamant about wanting my son to go to Sharon Elementary. My oldest son was actually enrolled in both schools before we actually made a final decision; or should I say, before I made the final decision. Now, with the possibility of Sharon closing, it is no surprise to me that he has informed me that our two children will attend Millboro Elementary. Should that happen, this time I have no argument. I have had several friends and neighbors in the Sharon area to tell me the same. I have supported Alleghany County schools in everything; however, the closing of Sharon Elementary I cannot support. My babysitter, whom is my mother-in-law, currently drives 20 to 25 minutes each day to put my children on the bus. My husband works at BARC Electric Co-Op, which is directly across from Millboro Elementary, which is also not far from my babysitter. Would my kids going to Bath County schools be more convenient? Yes, definitely. My husband could drop them off at their grandmother’s and bring them home every evening after school. But the fact remains; Sharon was and is the school I want my children to attend. You want to put our children in an already big school. How will this benefit them? I went to Clifton Forge East and West Elementary Schools. Two small elementary schools and I am a firm believer that our children not only benefit academically in a small school, but they also benefit socially. Those friendships that they develop in a small school where everyone knows everyone makes a big difference in the rest of their lives. I am 35 years old and my best friend currently and presently to this day, I met in the 1st grade at Clifton Forge West Elementary. Yes, we all develop new friendships in high school, but those do not compare to the relationships we developed in our early years. I do believe with all my heart that we have 3 excellent schools on the chopping block. Is there no other approach to this situation? We have two new schools in Low Moor but we are running on low capacity in all our schools. We have been informed by you, the board that Alleghany High School is in bad need of repair and improvements. Shouldn’t this school be looked at as a possibility to close? It seems to me to put our elementary schools back to use, put the PK-7 back in the elementary schools, close the high school and make the middle school the high school with grades 8-12. This way, two schools are closed and you’ve eliminated the high school need for its costly repairs. Would this work? I don’t know but I think it is definitely something that you the board should look at and consider. Thank you for the opportunity to speak and may God be with you in your decision.”
Mary Hutchison (8903 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Just to reiterate some of what I said previously – Boiling Spring School started out as a high school in 1927 before becoming the strong elementary school it is today. With that kind of longevity it’s easy to see it must be doing something right. The student body of Boiling Spring is comprised of generation after generation of families, forming a strong bond. This community has worked together for years, and it’s the community who pitched in and helped pay for our covered shelter, our new up-to-date playground our rock sign. It is our excellent group of teachers and support staff, who continually strive to see our children receive a top-notch education, all while keeping it personal, something a small school can do. One-on-one instruction and nurturing goes a long way. The openness of our school affords and even stronger sense of safety, with a number of adults being able to physically see each student at any given time. We know every child, their families, their after-school care, where they go each day, who can or cannot pick them up. The open concept gives our students a stronger base when it comes to learning how to concentrate, how to focus on one person or one context, when with so much else going on around t hem. Teachers and coaches have noted they can always pick out the students who attended Boiling Spring, because they are the ones who can truly focus and tune out all the rest. A plus in today’s hectic world. I can honestly say that our School is an asset. My son attended Boiling Spring School when we moved here in 1990. I was excited, knowing he would be attending what I heard referred to as “the best kept secret in Alleghany County.” Thanks to the small size and dedicated staff, my son was able to not only shine, but to receive a foundation of excellence and encouragement, and continued on to graduating college magna cum laude. Would he have achieved such success having attended elsewhere? Perhaps, but we’ll never know. What we do know, is that he attended Boiling Spring School, which was the beginning and strong foundation for him to build on. As an employee of Boiling Spring School for almost twenty years, I have personally seen the changes the education system has gone through. Yet through it all, the changes, the demands, the financial cuts, I have seen a group of dedicated, educated, loving teachers and staff, who have adapted to the changes and continue to accept changes with willingness and determination. Boiling Spring School has been fully accredited for years, having met all Virginia Accreditation Standards for ten, and all Federal Government AYP Standards for seven. Our children are nurtured, they are fed, they are educated, they are cared for. Our children deserve this. They should not be asked to get on a bus, take a long ride, pass their old home school and a newer city school, to attend a school far from home. Many will not be able to participate in after-school activities, due to the distance. Many will have to sit in the school, sick, if a parent can’t get to them, due to the distance. Some may even have to endure the humiliation of an accident or getting sick on the bus, due to the distance. This will not happen if you keep our school open. With Boiling Spring open, the generations of families since 1927 will continue to be a part of the school’s history, giving them a feeling of pride – in their school, in their community, in themselves. Thank you.”
Tina Conner (13665 Douthat State Road, Millboro, VA) read the following statement: “Monday night, I was shown the same initial budget presentation that I believe was given to all faculty. And from that presentation, my mindset was closures of at least 2 schools had to happen. So I focused my mind on enrollment numbers, growth and development areas, building utilization, and redistricting. My thought was the superintendent and the board had made up their minds to close schools and that’s where my focus went. I got stuck inside the box of the only way to cut costs were school closures. But is this the only way, or is it the easiest way? Then I referenced the Reduce Expenditures chart titled “Optional Reductions w/ Significant Organizational Impact”. I thought, if they can find 12 line items that saves over 1.2 million dollars, there has got to be somewhere in that budget to cut another $200,000 and keep schools open. It seems we are looking at the reductions to the organization as “Significant Impact”, but we are not guarding closing schools as being “a significant impact on our kids.” After looking at the report further, some numbers didn’t add up to me, so I pulled the budget and started looking at each line item. Half of them I have no idea what they are and others don’t make sense. Why does central office need $25,000 in office supplies when a school of over 600 kids only needs $27,000? Are we using the technology that we spend 1,000’s of dollars on to save buying materials and supplies? Granted those numbers may be as trim as you can get them, I don’t know, but do you know? Have you as a board member torn the budget apart line by line… asked questions and did your own research? Have you looked to see where you can trim it? It’s easy to say, like I did, that the numbers are what they are until you step out of the box, look for the information and numbers on your own. You might not find all the money that you need, and you may have to still close schools, but I plead with you to not just look at the dollar signs, because no one knows the true financial impact until it’s done… and once it’s done, it’s too late. Since it appears we are looking at this from a business standpoint, which I don’t agree with,we should be making cuts from the top down. No business will ever make cuts that affect their product, and in this case, our product is our children.”
Courtney Cox (8507 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Good afternoon Dr. Campbell, Chairman Persinger and ladies and gentlemen of the Board. I understand that closing Boiling Spring is due to the decrease of students in the school and the location of the school. I don’t agree with this. Due to the school being so isolated, this should be the reason that it should not be closed. The school has the Fire & Rescue Department right beside it. There is more than enough space for parking and outside play areas. We are in an economy right now that is struggling so why would a parent choose to pass by a brand new city school to take their child to a school across the county? They wouldn’t. The county will lose children to the city and the fact is that when the city built their new school, they built it to be able to house our county students. It seems like the city actually did do some useful research, unlike the county. Closing Boiling Spring will hurt the entire county because no person coming to our area Is going to want to live on one side of the county and have their child going across the county to another school. Also, did you stop to think that when the parents of Boiling Spring students take their children to the city school next year, that it is very possible that they may choose to transfer their middle and high school students to the city as well? More dollars given to the city and money taken from the county. Is this what you really want? I would definitely think about it. Please remember that each one of you seven board members have a vote, please make your vote count. Thank you.”
Trevor Cox (8507 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Thank you for allowing me to speak today. I attend 7th grade at Clifton Middle School. I am extremely proud that I was able to attend Boiling Spring School. The teachers at Boiling Spring treated me the same no matter what behavior or mood I may have been in from day to day. Attending Boiling Spring was just like being at home, just a bigger house and a lot more moms and dads telling me what to do. It would sadden me to see Boiling Spring close. I know that the teachers and other staff may be relocated to the other schools, but what about the building itself? Boiling Spring is not just part of our community, it IS our community. It is the heart and soul of our community. It houses good times and bad times, but most of all it houses cherished unforgettable times. Please consider the kids. I will be 13 years old next week and it is hard for me to ride the bus from my house to Clifton Middle School. Can you imagine how hard it is going to be for those 5 and 6 years olds to ride the bus all the way across the County to Callaghan? I believe the answer to this question is “no”. If you could imagine how hard it would be, we wouldn’t even be here today discussing closing Boiling Spring. Please do the right thing and keep boiling Spring School open. Thank you.”
Bill Reynolds (5012 Jackson River Road, Hot Springs, VA) read the following statement: “As I sat through the public hearing on Thursday night, February 7, and listened to the statistical data reported by various speakers as well as the same speakers making cases for their respective interests, it became very apparent that as a School board, you are trying to make decision on the future of the children of Alleghany County from a bottom up perspective as opposed to a top down perspective, which is the correct approach. The primary responsibility of the School Board is to provide a comprehensive plan that provides safety and education opportunities to the children of the county today and into the future. Having said that, it is statistically proven that smaller class room sizes for the elementary children are advantageous to the student for both social and learning skills, building large classes for these children is counterproductive to maintaining a solid base for the future. While the critics of Falling Spring cry the school utilization is the least of the county, they fail to recognize that the students from there rank very well academically. With all the lower projections made around lower enrollment numbers, there has to be an excess of school board personnel and vehicles that aren’t necessary to run the down sized system you are trying to force into place using your bottom up model. It is the responsibility of the School Board in conjunction with the Board of Supervisors to provide a realistic solution to the problem at hand that does not include holding the children of the county hostage. If the county expects to be marketable to businesses that would be interested in locating here, a solid school platform has to be part of the equation for success. It is apparent that the population of the county is not behind your current proposal and we are expecting a plan that fulfills the educational requirements of the children, with a financial plan that shows where the real gaps are and a plan that will close them.”
Sara Hoke (6085 Uplands Road, Covington, VA) Shirley Williams read the following statement: “In regards to the future education and potential closing of Boiling Spring Elementary I would like to address the School Board members with my concerns as a parent. Against my better judgment, I have moved my child (who is a kindergartener) to the Covington school system. We only live ½ mile from Boiling Spring School now and I feel like I have been given no other choice in the matter. My husband & I both are life time members of the Potts Creek community and both attended Boiling Spring and wanted the same for our 2 children. I cannot justify putting my child on a bus for 1 hour and 45 minutes one way, twice a day, 5 days a week and pass a brand new Blue Ribbon school in the process. Regardless of how many bus routes are added to the Potts Creek area, you cannot deny the fact that it is a 35 minute ride by car one way. It is absurd to drive by a brand new school that is only 20 minutes down the road. This is nowhere near a “justifiable” solution to this problem. Transportation only: How effective is this going to be? How expensive is this going to be? I know that I am not the only parent who has moved their child to the Covington district and I know that there will be several others that are planning to do the same for the 2013-14 year. Do you realize that it is roughly $6,000 per child? If only 2 children left this year and 5 children go to Covington next year that would be $42,000 lost for the county. That doesn’t even include the children that haven’t reached school age yet. How many will there be? How much money are you willing to hand over to Covington Schools for this? In addition to this, I would like to challenge all members of the School Board to get up every morning, get ready, have breakfast and ride the same ride that you want our children to take. Travel 1.75 hours, work a full day, travel 1.75 hours back to your home and start your “evening routines”. How hard would this be on you? How tired would you be? Or, challenge yourself to be a parent who is going to have to get a child or children ready every morning at the crack of dawn. And then do after school activities, or just the general everyday tasks; homework, dinner, baths, etc. My second problem that I have with the potential closing is that I am a small business owner in the Potts Creek area of Alleghany County. Do you realize that this closing will indirectly affect my business and will directly affect the well-being of my family? Who will want to live in an area with no school nearby? If people start moving away, my customer base moves. Population declines, business declines. No new-comers will want to buy the real estate in this area if they have children, property values will decrease. Your decision to close this school has no positive outcome from any angle. You are hurting the south end of Alleghany County if you go through with this. You are hurting families, businesses and the economy. Lastly, I would like to ask the School Board and Superintendent a few questions: (1) Have you cut back your salaries? (2) Have you done any lay-off or cut backs of staff at your office? (3) How many expensive “perks” have you given up? (4) What other costs can be cut at your level? It seems to me that these should have been the first budget cuts you make. Start at the top. Until you cut these items, do not face the public and say “You’re Sorry” or say that you “hate this” or that “you care”. Actions speak louder than words!”
Beth Woodson (112 Park View Ave., Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Good afternoon. I’m Beth Woodson. My family resides at 112 Parkview Ave., in the Clearwater Park subdivision of the Falling Spring Elementary School district. Having a profession in the technology sector affords me the luxury of being able to work remotely from any destination of my choosing. When our oldest child, Gabe, got closer to school age, I made the decision to return back to Alleghany County for one primary reason: the schools. I felt that smaller schools fostered a more collaborative work environment and that Gave would be more than just a number. I don’t need to stand up here and go on and on about the great things at our school. Three minutes is clearly not enough time to do so. The proof is in the numbers – Falling Spring Elementary is consistently a top performer. Like many parents form my district, I feel at a disadvantage. It seems that the Falling Spring closure option slipped in at the last minute, not giving us a lot of time to prepare and plan. It wasn’t a recommendation in the Cropper study, which actually recommended rezoning some of the western edge of Mountain View’s attendance zone to our district. For my family, the closure of Falling Spring would mean opting for a virtual academy/homeschool mix or possibly relocation. Under the redistricting proposal, Falling Spring students would be bused to Mountain View Elementary, which is 22 miles from their current school, even further for some of the students residing in Morris Hill and Natural Well. And, I’m told that under the scenario in which all three elementary schools were closed, both the Boiling Spring and Falling Spring students would be bused to Callaghan and some students would receive their instruction in trailers because of space constraints at the Callaghan facility. All the while, a building in excellent condition sits empty at Falling Spring. As community leaders, I challenge each of you to do what we encourage our children to do every day in these classrooms that we are fighting for – to think out of the box and try to find an innovative solution to this problem. School funding issues are not isolated to Alleghany County. Schools across the nation are facing the same problems as we are today. Many school systems have experienced success with extending the school day by one hour and reducing the number of days schools operate or changing the school week to 4 days. The Chattanooga County School system in Georgia opted for a 4 day instructional week, beginning in 2010. Their school system consists of 5 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school with a total of just under 2,600 students. A four-day school week helped Chattanooga County Schools save $796,000 annually ($88,000 in substitute teacher pay, $221,000 in busing costs, $154,000 in power costs, and $333,762 in salaries). Unlike the closure of schools, which would have no other benefit than a financial one, a 4-day school week shows other benefits. In Chattanooga County teacher absences decreased 28%, reducing the need for substitutes; K-8 student absences fell 32% in the first 2 years; discipline write-ups for 9-12 grade students fell by 73%, from 1,344 to 375 in the first 2 years; and 3rd, 5th, and 8th graders improved test scores in reading, English, math and science consistently each year. Additional savings options I would like to see considered would be moving Central Administration staff to different schools throughout the system that have the capacity, which would close the Central building; allowing non-location essential staff to work from home, reducing the costs of office space and utilities; exploring grant funding for non-infrastructure types of expenditures such as the $160,000 slotted for armed guards at the elementary schools and exploring fees for sports programs; bus transportation and textbook rentals, all of which could be placed on a sliding scale like the free and reduce lunches are handled. I stand here today pleading with you to exhaust every option before moving forward with any school closure, not only for our children, but for our entire community. For I fear that closing the smaller schools, which is one of the few things that our area actually has going for it, will be the nail in the coffin for this seemingly dying community.”
Matt Sponaugle (227 Pioneer Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “We are here today to discuss the looming $1.5 million dollar deficit this County is facing for the upcoming school year. By law, the County is required to pass a balanced budget. This is becoming a greater challenge each year with the current fiscal state of our County and continued cuts in funding on a state and federal level. Alleghany County has not raised the pay of its school employees for 5 years at this time and we are running out of opportunities to trim the budget. So now we have come to a truly landmark decision of having to close schools to come closer to a balanced budget. Yet in addition, the board would still have to cut another $600,000-$800,000 to balance the budget if we close two schools. I do not think standing up here giving you my personal opinion on what we should or shouldn’t do will actually help the situation. This decision should not be based on sentiment of the inability to let go of an ever fleeting legacy of Mountaineers and Cougars or even which of the elementary schools should not be closed because of the number of supporters at a meeting. Instead, we should trust the elected and hired officials that govern this school system to make the best decision based on all of the facts. Budget, transportation, facility condition and future community impact should all be considered and viewed solely based on the facts. We need to take the names off of the schools and put them down as schools “A”, “B”, and “C” and do a blind comparison of the data. Make the decision based entirely on the best set of information available. We should all support the School Board in this difficult time and in fact, I know that they have this information available to them. I instead will focus my attention on the Board of Supervisors. For too long, we have lived in a box being nearsighted and set in our ways. This area is quickly passing into the sunset and we have only a few more years to change its course. We have wasted so many resources in the past on so called economic development and other venues only to be left with mass amounts of debt and little to show for our efforts. There are only a few things that the citizens a whole in the county get – school system, law enforcement, and trash pickup. Certain areas of the county receive utility services but they in turn do pay a monthly fee for them to help offset the costs. I don’t know about many of you here, but I would be willing to drive my trash to a local pickup area or pay for this collection service instead of cutting a school out. Cutting administrative overhead, wasteful spending and ill-advised programs could render additional monies to help prevent the closing of these schools. It is heartbreaking to think about closing schools. I do believe with the declining population that I would be logical to close one school, but 2 or 3 would be devastating. I think the tax payers should demand that the County fund the difference required to only close one school, or no schools, and operate all the schools on an “as is” basis with no additional cuts. It is our money as tax payers, not the Board of Supervisors’ to spend. These are our schools and our taxes keep them open. It is now time that this community take action and force the county to step in to resolve this situation. The county has the funds to cover the budget shortfalls for the next 2 years and only close one school. They are going to raise our taxes anyway, so we should at least get something for it. This would give us time to put an actual plan together on the future of our schools system and the possibility of school and/or even government consolidation in the next couple of years. The school system can then cut as much as possible from the budgets and the County could trim some areas down as well. People think about economic development, growing our community and its future. Schools are the top of the list in all of these areas when it comes to growing your community. They are the single most important attraction for anyone or business looking to locate to a given area. Not only would shipping our children all over the county not help grow our population, there is a distinct possibility that excessive time on the bus will drive parents to enroll their kids in other school systems, or move away all together. It is time. I challenge the people of this community to rise up and force our governing body to take actual steps to intelligently resolve this problem without sacrificing our children and our future.”
Missy Lawrence (110 Hallie’s Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Shirley Williams (203 Bennettown Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Dr. Campbell, Members of the Board: I chose not to speak on Thursday evening because I wondered if my two cents worth could possibly make a difference. I brought my son Jacob to that hearing as representatives of his school, Boiling Spring Elementary. After the meeting, Jacob was obviously distressed and in his child like way, was curious why seemingly the only option is school closure. I have to admit, I share his wonder. So at the very least I owe it to him and the other students in our entire district to say I at least made my voice heard. So this is for our children. I hope the combined efforts and concerns of all who have expressed their opinions will be considered. I have heard many say these hearings are a formality and are only being held because protocol dictates. I hope that is not really the case and your decision has not been made. Decisions such as this should not be based solely upon statistics and studies. I am realistic enough to understand though that your decisions are in most part based on numbers. Essentially, the bottom line. As parents, we see the possibility of school closures as much more than that. It is a complete disruption of our children’s lives. Would they adapt? Probably most of them with very little effort on their part would. But adjusting to a new school is just among the many issues theses children will face with relocation, starting with basically a 3 hour daily commute. I wonder how many of you will be willing to do that? I daresay that if any of you faced a 3 hour commute time for work, you would start looking for other possibilities! Class sizes – how large will these classes be? Will our children continue to receive the same level of instruction they are accustomed to? I assure you, any class size over 15-18 students they absolutely do not receive the instruction that our children currently are privy to. For those children who, for whatever reason do not raise their hand to ask questions, they will fall behind at a rapid rate. My son is in fourth grade, so this change would only affect him for one year. Or would it? In all honesty, if Boiling Spring does close its doors at the end of this school year, I have no idea what my decision will be for him. Will I put him on a bus to travel approximately 20 miles to school? I assure you that does not settle well with me. Will I drive him to the city school, the very one that the bus will pass to transport our children to Callaghan? While that would only mean one school year for me, given that I am a stay at home mom, will the added expense of driving him to and from school daily be too much on our budget? Will I choose to home school? Maybe. But I believe children benefit from the daily interaction and socialization they enjoy at school. Either one of those last two options mean funds dedicated to his education will no longer be received by the county. Maybe it’s only one child, but I can say with certainty my child will not be the only one that will be moved to the city school or home schooled. Some children have already left Boiling Spring and relocated to the city, due to the hopelessness their parents felt at the looming inevitability. So will closing schools really meet the objective in the long run? Our school, small as it may be, is vital. It is much more than just a building where children attend school; it is the heart of our community. I don’t even want to fathom what the long term effects its closure will eventually mean. Has every option been explored and considered? Change may be inevitable, but even under the best of situation it’s difficult. I don’t envy the task that you are challenged with; but I charge you to prove the rumors wrong and to carefully consider not just the numbers on a piece of paper, but the lives those numbers represent - our community and our children.”
Sharon Rice (216 Dusty’s Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “I don’t want to see any school closed. There are things that people do not realize. When you make purchases outside this area, you are taking away from this areas tax dollars that could go to fund schools. It is our Board of Supervisors and administration that we need to make accountable for this situation that we are in. What have they done to bring jobs? How many of the department heads in the County live here? The Economic development person does not live here. How can you grow the economy and keep our schools open when your tax dollars don’t support it! Central was closed because it was not in good enough condition to send students to but you spent $1 million to renovate for administration. Was that really necessary?”
Robin Lee-Jackson (97 Laurel Drive, Covington, VA) provided the following statement: “I would like to address the Alleghany County School Board regarding the possible school closings. In 2012, when the public was first informed of the impendingclosure of Sharon Elementary and Boiling Spring Elementary, naturally there was apublic outcry and thetopic was instantlycontroversial.Our small, ruralarea is divided into districts and each community is extremely proud of "their" school. Residentsbuild their life around these communities and schools.Parents often makecareer decisionsbased on the desire that their children attenda small community school.Many families have sacrificed ahigher income in a larger area, just so their children can attend a smaller, "hometown"school!Parents, teachers, and students alike were completely caught unaware by the topic of closingnot one, but twoarea schools. After much debate and many meetings,the Alleghany Board of Supervisors provided (offered)the necessary funds to permit theabove named schools to remain open another year. The plan was for Falling Spring Elementaryand Callaghan Elementary toremain open and"house" the students from the schools that would be closing.After the School Board meeting Thursday night, February 7,2013, it became blatantly obvious that Falling Spring Elementary was facing closure also. When was this decision made? Why Falling Spring Elementary and not Callaghan? SharonElementary hadapproximately 10 months to plan and prepareto fight for their school to remain open. Why is Falling Spring Elementary not being granted the same privilege? Our students,teachers, staff, familiesand our community, are justas important as Sharon Elementaryor Boiling Spring Elementary!Everyone, or at least the majorityof the residents, understands the budget shortfall and the need to close at least one school.All anyone from Falling Spring Elementary is asking is time to absorb this news and make necessary plans to cope with the possibilityof closure. Please, at least be fair and give the students, teachers and parents of Falling Spring Elementarythe same amount of time afforded to Sharon and Boiling Springto try and "save" our school.Pleasepermit Falling Spring Elementary School to remain open.”
Samantha Campbell (3210 Rich Patch Road, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “I want to start off by saying I’m sorry if I seem nervous. I am not really the public speaking type of person but this is a very important matter. My daughter Serenity started at Boiling Spring last year. The first couple of days were bad, between her crying and trying to run out of the school. Mrs. Dew told me to give her a little time and she would adjust. Mrs. Dew and Mrs. Craft took a little extra time with Serenity and before long; she was okay with going to school, although she never rode the bus last year because she was terrified of the bus. Mrs. Dew came to me this year and asked if I minded if she came to my house to ride with Serenity to school. She wanted to see if Serenity could overcome her fear of the bus. They rode to and from school one day and now Serenity rides the bus a few days a week. Serenity has missed one day since she began school last year and she cried because I told her she couldn’t go. Serenity loves this school, the teachers and the staff. My child has made a complete turnaround about the whole idea of school. She loves school now and you can tell because of her testing scores since she began, they have continued to rise. She loves to come home and tell everyone what she has done that day. Now that I have described my personal encounters with Boiling Spring, I ask you on the Board, is it very healthy to put a young child on a bus twice a day for long periods of time? Can you tell me the extra kindness will continue in an overcrowded school? Will all children continue to get the personal and one-on-one teaching if you combine schools? Will my daughter’s testing scores and education level drop from overcrowded classrooms and less one-on-one teaching? This is our youth we are talking about. If you short change them now, what do you expect the outcome to be? My opinion you are setting these children up to fail. Is that what you want to happen with our children? I know this is a numbers game in reality, but to me it’s extremely more important. With that statement, I ask you to do the math, if other parents like me are considering city schools, how much additional money are you going to lose that maybe you have not considered. Thank you for your time.”
Naomi Madsen (205 Buckhorn Trail, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “We are here because we care. Many cannot be here and I speak for some of them too. Maybe I am saying something that you already know, but I’d like to remind you: You have the extremely important task of putting your egos aside, listening to your constituents, and then bringing our collective message to the table at decision time. You have been entrusted with our tax dollars, our money, and the quality of our children’s education. Truly, what an important job you have, and thank you for taking this on! You are our “employees”, really. You have really got to roll up your sleeves. I have been a financial advisor and money manager for a long time, and have been involved with many a board. Let’s remember how boards work! We must not let the “tail wag the dog”, as the old saying goes! (1) Guidance and information (and I use “guidance” very carefully here), are the duty of the school administration. (2) Your duty is to take that information and the collective wishes of the community, and decide! The Board is the boss (or dog, in this case). The administration staffs are your employees (or tail, in this illustration). What makes sense is that if you must close schools at this time, it makes sense to close those that (1) have a low utilization of their buildings, and (2) do not have the demographics showing much population growth for upcoming elementary students in their area, meaning no increase in attendance. I’ll bet my boots that none of you (school board members) completely understand that budget. We believe there are ways that exist to make our situation better than just closing schools and populating them “to the brink”. Keeping the smaller grades in smaller classes is imperative. The psychological effects to our children (not to mention our teachers and other staff) if this closing and over populating happens, have not been publicly discussed with us. There will be psychological consequences. This is not a positive way to handle this! I personally have suffered the consequences when my elementary school closed. You do have lots of anger, fear, and frustration in your community, over the way issues have been handled in the past. To remedy this in the future, we need you to show us the budget, state and federal funds in it or not! More open communication! Everyone knows that any relationship, professional or personal, needs two-sided conversations. “Muzzled” meetings like this are informative to you. When it is the public that is “muzzled” and we are listening to you, it is informative to us, but we also need to be able to talk with one another on a regular basis. And if you are not communicating with your School Board representative, shame on you! Oh, and being asked to write our questions on 3.5 cards is a bit demeaning. Maybe we could have a roundtable discussion? Or a town hall meeting? Thank you.”
Valerie Humphreys (1108 Cherokee Trail, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Chairman Persinger, members of the School Board, Dr. Campbell: My name is Valerie Humphreys and I live at 1108 Cherokee Trail, Covington, VA. Thank you for this opportunity to speak on the subject of school closures. I know the board is facing many tough decisions about the future of our school system; however, I do not believe that closing Boiling Spring Elementary School is the solution. This is my 28th year teaching in the Alleghany School Division with all of those years of experience spent at Boiling Spring Elementary. My husband has been with the system for 14 years at Clifton Middle School. To say that we believe in the effectiveness of Alleghany County schools would be an understatement. Our son attended Boiling Spring Elementary and was the recipient of their scholarship his senior year. He graduated with honors from Alleghany High School and was accepted to George Mason University. However, he decided to remain in this area and continue his education at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. He will graduate in May and plans to attend James Madison University in the fall. Even he says his years in the Alleghany County schools have prepared him well to meet the challenges of college. Boiling Spring is a small community school and research shows the benefits of small schools. The National Education Association website states that smaller schools are especially important for disadvantaged students because more individualized attention is given and teachers are able to address different learning styles. Boiling Spring has a high population of these disadvantaged students, mainly those receiving free and reduced lunch. Also smaller schools promote substantially improved achievement rates. Research also indicates that the instructional quality and working conditions are better at small schools. A small school like Boiling Spring Elementary allows the teachers to know all of the students in the building. Our open-space concept allows visibility so many eyes are watching and caring for the students. This concept also allows us to adjust the size of our class area as needed.
In a small school, teachers are more likely to recognize and foster the individual needs and talents of their students thus offering a more personalized educational experience. According to a report from Dollars & Sense, small schools can be more cost effective than large schools. On a cost per-graduate basis, small schools have been shown to be more efficient. According to the ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, small schools exhibit a high sense of pride and an attitude and sense of personal possession and involvement on the part of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community residents. The school is the community center in many rural areas. This most certainly describes Boiling Spring School. We offer space for sports activities, a picnic shelter and playground, we fix meals for the senior citizens, and our water system is used by several neighboring homes. These are just a few of the things we are able to do for the Boiling Spring community. Boiling Spring Elementary is a well maintained building that is bright and attractive. We are climate controlled and carpeted. We have Wi-Fi throughout the building and a great amount of technology such as smart boards and a mobile lab with which to enhance our instruction. All of our teachers have high expectations and work very hard to see that each and every student is successful. My years teaching at Boiling Spring Elementary have been very satisfying. I have met and become friends with many families and continue to keep in touch with them after their children leave our building. I love looking at the newspaper to see the honors our former students have achieved. I realize that you have some very difficult decisions to make about the future of our school system. Many have spoken about the flawed studies that were conducted and I do not feel that I need to repeat what you should already know. I hope that you will look beyond the dollar figures and look at what is truly beneficial to our students who are our future. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak.”
Ed Atkins (97 Nalley’s Circle, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “My wife Kristi and I have two children who attend Falling Spring Elementary. I do not envy the position of any of you on the school board. These are decisions that impact people emotionally because people care for their children and it impacts people’s jobs. It is easy for people who do not have to make these types of decisions to criticize them. I hope that whatever decisions made going forward are made on the children’s behalf first. The following are items for the board to consider if they have not already. Some of these suggestions may already be in place or are not feasible since id o not have the line item budgets for each school. These are solely related to the budget presentation made on January 14, 2013. (1) It should be noted that the initial state budget for the current school year increased by 1.8% prior to being finalized in May. This would represent an approximate $100,000 variance as opposed to $375,000 that is being faced at this point. (2) Are there options related to the local revenue shortfall? (3) have all non-essential expenditures been reviewed? (4) If a school or schools have to be closed, I would have you consider the following criteria: (a) change that impacts the least amount of children (b) greatest financial impact (c) budgetary efficiency based on instructional and non-instructional operational costs, per students costs, this would reflect how well budgets are managed by each school. For example, Boiling Spring has the highest non-instructional operating costs per student of the 3 schools being reviewed for closure. (d) impact to teachers. The school boards between the city and county should meet to discuss options related to requiring payments for city children who attend county school and vice versa. If a school is closed and redistricting occurs, be sure to have a specific plan on how to integrate students into the new school that will focus on maintaining manageable class sizes and minimize bullying. The board needs to consider that a potential closure could result in a charter school being formed and what impact that would have to the county school budget. Based on review of the presentation, I do not believe that Falling Spring would be the school to close. However, I am sure that I do not have all of the facts and options. Whatever decisions are made, my wife and I commit to continue to involve ourselves in our children’s education and school life experience.”
Winter Crance (P.O. Box 169, Iron Gate, VA) read the following statement: “While I understand that we are facing truly trying times and that federal, state, and local funding is just not there to keep this county’s current school system afloat any longer, I am asking that each of you please take a more in-depth look at all of the possible ramifications that will come from your decision concerning school closures. Placing our 2nd largest elementary school inside of the largest one is going to create more long term problems than the potential short term problems it will only partially solve. Teachers will find it more difficult to differentiate instruction and meet all the needs of their students due to larger classes. Special education teachers will find themselves with a greater case load of students who need specialized instruction, and yet have even less time to actually give those students the extra help they deserve and are entitled to. What about the school nurses who will be struggling even more to complete vital screenings, while also dosing routine medications and attending to the daily stream of kids who come in needing various levels of medical attention? Decisions like this warrant a truly unbiased, broad spectrum approach to not only all possible options that exist, but also the long term effects each of those options could generate. The ripple effects from your decision will affect this entire county from here on out. The decline in our student population that is such a driving force behind these closures is going to be affected even more by your decision. If that impact on student population will be a negative or a positive one will be determined by you. People do not have their children in school in this county because they want them in an elementary school with over 700 students. Our smaller schools and their success convince people to stay here and raise their families and that same thing is what attracts families from other areas. The number of current and perspective students that will be lost from closing Sharon will have such a huge impact on the future of this school system. Sharon is a prime location for not only the current families but also for families who are looking to relocate. The land available for personal or business development is more than plentiful. The option of a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School makes the area even more desirable for families. Then factor in being located near the interstate and the opportunities that provides for employment, recreation, and retail in Bath, Botetourt, Lexington, and Roanoke. And don’t forget that your data already shows the Sharon area as having the only projected growth in the county! The number of parents who already work in Bath, Botetourt, Covington, Roanoke, or Rockbridge and can easily place their children in school there or are willing to relocate to one of those areas is much larger than I realized. And it is a significant number of them who plan to do just that. I am one of those parents who already have a definite plan in place and will relocate, to maintain for my children, the sanctity of a small school education in a thriving community. Here we are yet again as a divided community. Instead, we should be working with one another to explore all of our options and to find an acceptable solution to this problem. The effects of this decision will not be able to be undone and that alone warrants much more time and research into what would be best.”
Sandy Moss (233 E. Michigan Street, Covington, VA) read the following statement: “Chairman Persinger, Members of the Board, Dr. Campbell: My name is sandy Moss and I live at 233 E. Michigan Street in Covington. Ten years ago, I was welcomed into the close knit family of Boiling Spring. I have had the opportunity to get to know and great faculty and staff who strive for excellence and who truly care about their students. I have fallen in love with my school, Boiling Spring. Yes, it’s a small school, but there’s a lot to be said for small schools. I can name every single student at Boiling Spring, as well as their siblings. As a matter of fact, I have taught the majority of them. I know where the children live, what bus they ride, who is and who isn’t allowed to pick them up from school. We are a family. You have a difficult decision to make. I am here today to ask you to be farsighted and to look at the bigger picture. One of the proposed solutions is to close Boiling Spring. This is not a profitable solution as one might think. The state gives Alleghany County Public Schools approximately $6,000 per student per year. In my combined JK and Kindergarten class, I had 22 students enrolled for the 2012-2013 school year. $6,000 times 22 students is $132,000, the amount that our school system receives for one year. Over the course of my current students’ educational career through 12 grade, our school system will receive approximately $1,584,000 for my students. Here’s the kicker, half of my students’ parents have confirmed that if Boiling Spring closes next year, their children will attend Edgemont, a newly built, Blue Ribbon School in the city. This is due to the long bus ride that their children will have to endure to get to Callaghan. In fact, 2 of those students have already transferred to the city because of the uncertainty. Losing just these 11 students to the city will result in a loss of $792,000 over the course of their educational career. That number is more than the estimated savings of closing Boiling Spring, and again, let me emphasize, that number only reflects students in my class. It does not reflect the other classes at Boiling Spring where I know students will attend Edgemont if Boiling Spring closes. Furthermore, there is potential for the city to run a bus up Potts Creek if Boiling Spring closes. Parents who are concerned about long bus rides will consider this option. Closing Boiling Spring was considered in the past by the former school board and former superintendent, but because of the great potential to lose students and funding from the state, that option was rejected. We are sitting here today because of a decline in enrollment. Are you willing to add to this decline? I’ll leave you with the words of my students’ favorite author, Dr. Seuss, ‘Sometimes you will never know the value of something until it becomes a memory.’”
Jacob Downer (222 Dusty’s Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Anthony Nicely (4217 Nicelytown Road, Clifton Forge, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Shannon Cox (8507 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Jennifer Seckner (307 Evans Lane, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “As I stated on Thursday, first and foremost I am a proponent of keeping all the elementary school in this county open, they are all wonderful schools and I would personally send my children to any of the elementary schools as they currently stand; however, I am opposed to creating a “mega” elementary school in this county. There are many positives regarding the education in this county, which we all need to focus on. For every negative, there are at least 5 positives. My senior, Patrick, has been accepted to 4 Virginia colleges and my daughter, Clair, who is a junior, has had the opportunity to attend the Jackson River Governor’s School and had the recent honor of being accepted to attend the UVA Society of Women Engineers Exploration Day, and they both began their educations at Sharon elementary School. They both have friends who began their education in all of the different elementary schools throughout the county who are also finding success in many different areas; so in essence, we are all in this together. I understand that money does not grow on trees and having two high school students, and one JK student, I understand the maintenance needs at Alleghany High School. The high school represents our entire community to those who travel here from outside our area, we need to make it the most appealing building possible and improve our athletic facilities and our technology in the high school. With that being said, if you absolutely can’t keep all of our wonderful small elementary schools open and in order to keep enrollment figures down at Mountain View, I suggest we look into the possibility of creating two primary schools and one elementary school. I have already sent you an email regarding some of my suggestions on how this could be accomplished. Currently, there are 16 school systems in the state that have primary schools; Appomattox and Bedford, being just two of those counties. Some of these schools house JK-2, some house JK-4. I feel we could have a primary school on the east end of the county and a primary school on the west end of the county and use Mountain View as our elementary school with third through fifth grades or somewhat of a variation of those grades. I feel that this would keep most of the SOL testing in our newest and most high-tech building. I understand that some of our computer specialists also have an office in that building so that would keep them on site during test days. Another benefit to having 1 elementary school and 2 primary schools would be it would cut down on the competition amongst the schools. We could all rally behind Mountain View and cheer them on to continued success with their SOL scores. This proposal would keep the enrollment below 600 in each and every primary and elementary school. Mountain View and Clifton Middle School could also share buses. I suggest a committee of dedicated teachers, staff, and parents be formed that would represent each and every district and school and we come together as a community and find the best solutions for our children to study options like the primary school option or other potential options. Like I said in the beginning of my statement, I believe our schools in this county are much better than some make them out to be and I am proud to call myself a Sharon Packer and most importantly, an Alleghany Mountaineer. I have a handout which shows what counties currently have primary schools and the enrollment in each of those schools. Thank you again for your time this afternoon.”
Andy Seckner (307 Evans Lane, Clifton Forge, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Ronnie Richardson (2401 Grafton Street, Clifton Forge, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Mackenzie Richardson (100 Nicholas Drive, Clifton Forge, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
James Frame (3314 Jackson River Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Mattie Jones (7710 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Angela Jones (7710 Potts Creek Road, Covington, VA) spoke in opposition of school redistricting.
Brooke Nicely (3404 Longdale Station Road, Clifton Forge, VA) read the following statement: “My name is Brooke Nicely. I am a resident of the Sharon district and I share two daughters with my husband, Jason. Abigail is 4 and Jaycee is 1. I spoke on Thursday night, but I feel that it is important as a concerned citizen and parent that I share my concerns with you again. To the members of the school board, I want more from you. I want visionary leaders, real leaders who first seek opportunities of partnership rather than reverting to the old “divide and conquer” approach, dividing communities and pitting school against school and community against community in a bitter game of survivor. Put your leadership pants on and envision new ways of doing business. Currently economic conditions are temporary. The school board needs to develop a long term vision for the budget shortfall, not a short sighted reactionary step that will lead to overcrowded schools and more expenditures. I do not support the closure of any schools in our district. Each school offers a unique opportunity. Each school has worthy reason to remain open and serve their communities. Tonight as a Sharon resident, I am here to support Sharon Elementary School. The option of closing Sharon Elementary School is neither validated nor supported by the information provided to the community by the school board. The initial motivation for redistricting and closing schools was said to be decreased enrollment and low building utilization. For the current 2012-2013 school year, Sharon has the 2nd highest enrollment and the 2nd highest building utilization. For the projected 2013-20141 school year, Sharon has the 2nd highest enrollment and 2nd highest building utilization. Mountain View Elementary is the only elementary school in the district that currently and based upon projections, has higher enrollment and building utilization. Additionally, the Sharon district is the only district in the county where the 0-4 population is actually larger than the 5-9 population. The U.S. Census Bureau also provides information that shows our current 0-4 population is also larger than the 10-14 population and possibly the 15-19 population. This tells us that the Sharon district is actually facing an incoming student population that is larger than any in the past 15 years. In closing, any option which closes Sharon Elementary School does not provide the most balance in building utilization among the elementary schools in the district. Closing Sharon school will cause potential overcrowding at 1 elementary school, which will function at 84.1% and leave another functioning at only 42.8% with no projected growth in the school age populations as shown by the U.S. Census Bureau. Merging the 2 largest schools in the district which have the highest attendance and highest building utilization may help save a short term budget shortfall bit it will not provide a secure long term solution. Thank you for your time and the opportunity to speak.”
Chairman Persinger thanked everyone for their comments and declared the public hearing closed.
MOTION: That the Alleghany County School Board public hearing be adjourned.
SECOND: Mr. Angle
TIME: 5:05 p.m.
Chairman, Alleghany County School BoardClerk