Parents voiced their concern about the potential for three elementary schools to close in Alleghany County. Now in a letter the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on the impact the decision would have on the region.
"You have the possibility that people will move somewhere else and commute for 60 miles rather than live here, and put their children in a school system that is not as good as the one where they can go somewhere else and live," says Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce board President, David Arritt.
Arritt along with the rest of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism board sent a letter to Alleghany County and city of Covington schools, as well as government officials to offer an idea; a joint school system with Alleghany county and Covington. The idea would have to be proposed by both school boards, and localities would pay for it together.
Mayor Tom Sibold says Covington city council is open to the idea and believes it could save some money, but is unsure how much and if it would save all schools.
"I think we could save money would be administration. Right now we have two administrative staffs overseeing two school systems, could one administrative staffs run one school system? I do not know but it is worth looking at," says Sibold.
Alleghany county school board just got the letter and are up against a march 31 deadline of coming up with a balanced budget, and making up a 1.5 million dollar budget shortfall. Superintendent Sarah Campbell is meeting with the chamber to listen to the idea, but right now what is on the table is deep cuts.
"One of those options is to close one or more schools, and we are going to have to wait and see where we are after they look for cuts in the budget," says Campbell.
Leaving nothing off the table, but a short deadline to come up with the solution between closing schools, and sweeping cuts.