Martinsville, Henry County school superintendents share thoughts on consolidation

Consolidation brought up at Henry County supervisors' meeting Thursday

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Despite being two separate school districts, Martinsville and Henry County's superintendents say the districts already do a lot together.

"We've looked at ways we collaborate and work together to provide more opportunities for students," Henry County Superintendent Jared Cotton said Friday.

The topic of consolidation was brought up by Henry County supervisors at their Thursday night meeting.

Cotton said that if the districts officially consolidate, that collaboration could expand.

Merging could also save money.

"You wouldn't need as many staff members necessarily as you have now, so I think that's where the savings could come in," Cotton explained.

He pointed out, though, that expanded collaboration could also happen without consolidation.

When asked if he was for or against combining the districts, Martinsville Superintendent Zeb Talley, like Cotton, didn't say yes or no.

Instead, like Cotton, he emphasized that the school districts already work together.

"I'm leaving it up to the governing bodies to decide," Talley said. "My focus is educating kids in the city of Martinsville and getting our school system up to par from where it was five years ago."

When it comes to questions about schools potentially closing, positions potentially being cut, and possible curriculum changes, answers are unclear.

"I think that would be up to the (Henry County) Board of Supervisors and (Martinsville) City Council and the school boards. That's not something I've ever experienced before," Talley said.

Currently, there are no plans to consolidate the school districts and no formal effort is being made to study consolidation.