Report finds Lynchburg has too many public schools

In the last 20 years, enrollment has decreased more than 10%

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Some schools in Lynchburg are at risk of shutting down given that they’re getting older and it’s costing a lot to keep up with the buildings.

School leaders have some tough decisions to make, and there are three options on the table. It all has to do with declining enrollment and having too many buildings.

For example, Lynchburg has 11 elementary schools while Roanoke has 16 with twice as many students.

In Lynchburg, the average age of a school is 63 years. With nearly 20 in the district, keeping up maintenance has been tough.

The Department of Education suggests major renovations every 50 years. However, some experts said it might be cheaper to build new.

“Another problem that you guys have is you don’t have enough money or manpower to handle this,” Blair Smith said.

Smith is part of Dominion Seven Architects, who presented this research and three options moving forward to school leaders.

He said school leaders can build new schools, build one new school or renovate existing schools. However, all options will require consolidation and closure.

“It looks like they are all in a singular line Ward II,” School Board Member Atul Gupta said. “I’m hoping as we use your expertise, we don’t leave those socially and economically deprived students behind by closing all those schools and moving them.”

School board members raised concerns about closing multiple schools in the same part of town.

Schools on the east side, like Dearington and R.S. Payne Elementary, are in the oldest and worst conditions. They also have the lowest enrollment numbers.

“Some of our class sizes have to be 18 or 19 to accept that funding,” Lynchburg City Schools Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards said. “Well, we’re going to trade that funding in if you start adding more students to a classroom.”

Dr. Edwards warned not only could this impact the funding they need but that the district may also run into issues with redistricting rules.

School leaders are expected to talk about this more at the end of next month. However, they say it’s a project that could take at least a decade.

About the Author

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.

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