Public comment period begins Tuesday in closure of 14 Fayette schools

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Public comment period begins Tuesday in closure of 14 Fayette schools
By Alex Wiederspiel, WV MetroNews

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Permanent school closure hearings have a tendency to get heated from time to time–a fact that Fayette County School Superintendent Terry George recognizes.

“The emotions can run over and spill over,” George said. “Any time that you are talking about taking a school out of a community or moving students to a new community to attend school, emotions sometimes get a little heated,”

George said that statement is particularly true when it comes to closing a high school, and Fayette County has plans to close five high schools by 2019.

“There’s always that potential for that community to be extremely upset because they are no longer going to have a high school in that community,” he said. “Those are the ones that tend to get a little frustrated–when you move a high school out.”

That statement will likely apply directly to the hearing on May 2 to accept public comment on the closure of Meadow Bridge High School. When the dust settles, only two high schools will remain in Fayette County. In total, the Fayette County Board of Education will hear public comment on the closure of 14 schools through May 16.

These can be meetings that run long when emotions run high. Any meeting that doesn’t conclude by 11 p.m. must be suspended and resumed the following day. George said the board has scheduled two meetings on the same day every other day for the next four weeks to prepare for that possibility. The first meeting at Midland Trail High School is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 at 4:30 p.m.

“Whatever time that meeting would end at Midland Trail High School, there has to be an hour in between the closure of that hearing and the opening of the Ansted Middle hearing,” he said.

In theory, the next meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. George expects Ansted Middle School to draw particular interest on Tuesday.

“That will move that school and that will effectively take the current Ansted Middle School off-line,” he said. “We are currently running individual room heaters there because of the heating system that failed there several years ago.”

Construction on the replacement for Ansted Middle School is expected to begin in 30 days. George said bids are set to be accepted on the earliest construction projects Tuesday afternoon.

The following is the schedule of public hearings. At this time, each school hearing will be held at the school in question unless otherwise noted.

Midland Trail High School, 4:30 p.m., April 25.

Ansted Middle School, 6:30 p.m., April 25.

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.