Cross County School Consolidation Talks in Putnam County

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Like in most small towns, parents in Leon in Mason County are proud of their small school.

That's part of the reason for backlash against a plan to consolidate with Buffalo Elementary next door in Putnam County.

"We’ve got a lot of pride down here,” parent Fred Higginbotham said. “We want to keep the school in Leon."

"I'm not happy about it, because that would mean larger class sizes,” Leon parent Stacy Garrity said.

The schools are about 10 miles apart. The Putnam County Board of Education voted to hire an architectural firm to explore their options.

It would cost 25 million dollars to build two new schools, but only 13 million if they combine them.

Putnam's Director of Elementary Schools Karen Nowviskie says it's still very early in the planning stages, and they don't know how the new school would be governed, how jobs at the two old schools would be transitioned, or where the new building would be located.

"I'd like to know who's going to be in charge of the school, how they're going to work that out,” Higginbotham said. “Are the teachers going to get to keep their jobs, the janitors, cooks? There are a lot of issues there."

Linda Morris went to Buffalo Elementary and has twin girls who go there now.

"I understand holding onto tradition,” Morris said, “but I also understand we have to go with the flow. If it's better for the kids, that's what we should do. If it's better to combine schools and make one, let's do it."

Nowviskie says Mason school board members may come to the next Putnam board meeting October 21 to further discuss this.

She says the School Building Authority would need details on the project by December.

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