Kanawha County Board of Education discusses possible consolidation plans
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Williams said there are just under 24,000 across the school district.
Williams said at one point in time, the number used to hover around 60,000 students.
“We have 65 schools and 900 square miles, and that’s way too many buildings,” Williams said.
“The average age for our high schools is 51 years, the average age for our middle and elementary school is 63 years, and aging facilities are very difficult to keep up. It costs a lot to heat to cool to run the electric, the gas and all that and so we have to make cuts in order to remain, have a balanced budget and deliver the services that our students need.”
With a dwindling population in the county reflected in the student body, Williams said he has been considering how to effectively educate students long-term, prompting discussion about three potential merging options with board members at Monday night’s which are:
- Closing Grandview Elementary to move those students into Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary and Edgewood Elementary
- Closing Marmet Elementary and move students into Chesapeake Elementary
- Closing Weimer Elementary in St. Albans and move students into Alban Elementary and Bridgeview Elementary
If a consolidation plan is accepted, around 40 positions would be cut. Williams estimates 23 professional staff and 15 service staff.
“No one likes consolidation, no one likes change, but unfortunately it’s something that’s going to have to happen so that we can continue to provide excellent services for our students and our teachers, we have no choice,” he said. “You can have new experiences, schools would be able to perhaps do more field trips and do things of that nature. They would have more concentrated services in an area so we may be able to provide extra services to our programming for the kids in a particular school and things of that nature.”
Williams said he’ll now focus on setting up public meetings in the areas near the potentially affected schools. Once those meetings happen, the Board of Education will consider the consolidation proposals and vote.
The state Board of Education would also need to accept or reject the plan.
No merge would happen until the 2024-2025 school year.
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