Boone County community fights to keep schools
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews
VAN, W.Va. — Supporters of two Boone County schools stood outside the buildings holding signs Tuesday morning calling on school officials not to close them.
The school system continues to suffer from the significant downturn in coal and the school board is faced with another $1.7 million dollar budget cut. The supporters believe Van Jr/Sr High School and Van Elementary are on the table for possible closure at the end of the school year.
Van High 1977 graduate Barry Brown said it doesn’t have to be that way.
“We’re hoping coal revenues will go up. They are putting a strip (mine) in up in the head of the (Coal) River,” he said. “I know property taxes haven’t been coming in but we’re just hopeful that everything will get lined out and we’ll be able to keep our school.”
Boone County School Superintendent Jeff Huffman met with teachers and school administrators at the two schools Tuesday. Information is expected to be released at a community meeting Thursday.
Huffman wouldn’t confirm or deny the possible closings at Monday night’s school board meeting.
Van High junior Chris West doesn’t even want to consider attending his senior year at Scott or Sherman high schools in another part of the county.
“It’s (Van High) everything. It’s family. It’s friends. My mom went there,” he said. “My dad went to Scott but he supports the Bulldogs all the way.”
Brown said if the school board has to close a school in the Van area they could close the elementary school and make the high school a K-12 building.
“It has been done in Ohio. A couple of people went and checked that out and were real impressed with it,” Brown said.
Some have said Huffman will propose a K-8 school in the Van High building along with sending the high school students to Scott High in Madison.
Any school closing proposal would have to go through state-mandated school closing hearings. It would also require final approval from the state Board of Education.