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McDowell County B.O.E holds special meeting on possible school consolidation

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MCDOWELL COUNTY, W.v. (WVVA) -- The McDowell Board of Education held the first of three special meeting.

The topic is possibly closing and consolidating three elementary schools; Fall River Elementary School, Kimball Elementary School and Welch Elementary School.

The board is looking to submit a plan for approval to the West Virginia School Building Authority.

They seek $18.6 million for their consolidation project.

McDowell's school board says it's more cost effective to build a new school as the student bodies are shrinking, averaging a loss of 100 students a year.

Two of the schools, Welch and Kimball Elementary, are also on flood plains.

There is opposition to the consolidation plan, even though there's no arguing that the space in existing facilities is under-utilized due to low student bodies.

"There's 23% being utilized here at the school, i think we have eleven classrooms that are empty," said David Williams, the president of the McDowell County Board of Education. "And there's a lot of costs, heating, electric, everything in the whole building. The enrollment keeps dropping so you know we just have to consolidate, we're short on teachers, so that'll help us there. "

"I was here when the building opened and I do know that I want the best for our students," said Gwendolyn Lacy, a teacher at Fall River Elementary. "But I don't know if going up on Mount View mountain is the best for our kids. A new facility would be nice. But when you take a school out of the community, the community starts to die."

The board says the consolidated school would be built at Mount View High School campus.

The following two sessions will be held on March 24th at Kimball Elementary School at 6 p.m. and March 25th at Welch Elementary School at 6 p.m.

Christina Kass

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