BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Bedford County Public Schools are considering consolidating, renovating or building new elementary schools to address a growing population and aging buildings.
Thursday night, the school board was presented with an elementary school study. Needs include roof and HVAC repairs and bringing seven buildings up to current ADA standards.
Options include renovations, building new schools, redistricting and consolidation. If the board chooses to consolidate, existing schools would be renovated or new ones would be built, and then they'd combine the students -- for example -- Moneta and Huddleston, Goodview and Stewartsville, and Bedford Elementary and Primary.
"To make sure that our buildings are sound and make sure they have enough capacity to meet the needs of our learners," said Mac Duis, the schools' chief operations officer.
School board members Susan Kirby and Martin Leamy are opposed
"If you consolidate them, you're looking at closing community schools," said school board member Susan Kirby. "We don't want anymore schools closed."
"It robs a community, a small community of part of its identity," said Martin Leamy, another school board member.
Bonnie Ellefson's grandkids went through Bedford Schools, and she loves the small-town feel. She said she's concerned what would happen if schools consolidated.
"Classrooms might be a little too large. i think there would be more of a distraction."
The district closed Body Camp and Thaxton elementary schools in 2014, which was met with criticism. Duis says this time would be different.
"There were a lot of lessons learned... approaching it more with better alternatives in mind if those are the decisions the school board makes," Duis said.
The school district is reaching out to parents for input. The school board is holding a work session that's open to the public later in September to discuss the options.