UPDATE 5/16/17 @ 9:35 p.m.
FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Plans to consolidate schools in Fayette County are moving ahead, Superintendent Terry George told us Tuesday.
Board members voted 4-1 in favor of closing several schools.
Fourteen public hearings have been held in the county leading up to this vote.
George says he's pleased that the board took a positive action and he looks forward to presenting their plans to the state Board of Education for final approval.
If approved, 11 of the 18 district schools, including three of its five high schools, would be closed.
The remaining seven buildings would be renovated, and four brand new schools will be built.
ORIGINAL STORY 4/25/17
FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- With school buildings crumbling around students, officials in Fayette County are marching toward major consolidation and renovation efforts.
Tuesday night, the district held their first pair of 14 public hearings, to consider neighbors' thoughts on shaking up the school landscape.
At one of the meetings, inside the gymnasium of Ansted Middle School -- one of 11 schools that would close if the plan is approved. School parent Jennifer Campbell spoke out in support of the plan, citing the deteriorating conditions as motivation for change.
"We've had many incidents of schools' ceilings falling on children's heads," Campbell said. "I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, in a country that everything around them was falling down, we worked on school facilities that were in better shape."
Superintendent Terry George says the current administration is trying to come up with a solution after the past four decades saw limited maintenance work take its toll. George says the West Virginia Board of Education deemed many of the buildings as behind the legal standards of school conditions and is requiring the district to catch up.
"Most of the people in this area," George said. "They would like their students to go to school in buildings that are safe."
If the plan is approved, 11 of the 18 district schools, including three of its five high schools, would be closed. The seven remaining buildings would receive various levels of renovation work and, George says, four all-new schools would be built.
Opponents of consolidation say removing schools would hurt those areas' sense of community and would increase travel time for students.
But, George says, fixing up all the rundown buildings simply isn't feasible. He says new buildings would be safer and create new learning opportunities.
"Those schools will be modern facilities," George said. "We will enhance and enrich our curriculum for our students ... we will also provide safe and secure facilities and it's just gonna enhance the aesthetics so the students can go and attend schools that are conducive to learning."
If the Fayette County BOE approves the plan, it will still need approval from the state Board of Education before consolidation can begin.
The following is the list of the remaining public hearing meetings:
- Valley Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., April 27.
- Valley High School, 6:30 p.m., April 27.
- Meadow Bridge Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., May 2.
- Meadow Bridge High School, 6:30 p.m., May 2.
- Oak Hill High School, 4:30 p.m., May 4.
- Fayetteville High School, 6:30 p.m. May 4.
- Fayetteville Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., May 8.
- Gatewood Elementary School, 6:30 p.m., May 8.
- Collins Middle School, 4:30 p.m., May 10, to be held at Oak Hill High School.
- Mount Hope Elementary School, 6:30 p.m., May 10.
- Rosedale Elementary School, 4:30 p.m.. May 16.
- New River Elementary School, 6:30 p.m. May 16.