Bristol, Va. school leaders to discuss multi-million school consolidation plan

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Bristol, Va City School leaders are considering a multi-million dollar school consolidation plan that would move about 600 students in the district.

Bristol, Va. City School Superintendent Keith Perrigan tells New Channel 11 that the board is now looking for public comment on the proposed plans to close three of the four elementary schools in the city, going from four elementary schools to two, then building a new one.

Wednesday night, they’ll have their first public comment session at Joseph Van Pelt Elementary School at 6 p.m.

Perrigan tells us he’ll give a presentation on the state of the 3 schools they’re recommending closing. The schools are Highland View Elementary, Stonewall Jackson Elementary and Washington-Lee Elementary. Van Pelt would remain open as part of the plans.

He’ll talk about how the board has gotten to where they are in the process and how the school board has addressed this plan over the past several years. He’ll also be discussing potential sites chosen for the new school, then open the floor for public comment.

Perrigan said this has been in discussion since 2011. The schools looking to be closed were built in the 1930’s and 1940’s and are aging, Highland View was even deemed functionally obsolete by a consultant. Declining enrollment over time is another reason for the proposed plans.

Highland View is the oldest school, Stonewall is the next oldest, then Washington-Lee. The newest school they have in the city, Van Pelt, was build in 1974.

The board has not yet secured funding for the proposed $15-22 million dollar new school project. Perrigan said this would be possible thorugh an alternative financing model, and he’s hoping for an unsolicited bid through a private, public partnership. They have not yet received their first bid.

He said the city commission has not taken an official vote on the plans but the school board is continuing to look into the proposed consolidation.

The board is hoping to have more STEM opportunity, more computer labs, and enhanced technology through the new school project.

Perrigan told us he’s looking forward to hearing from people in the community about the proposed plans.

There will be a public comment session at Highland View Elementary tomorrow, and two weeks from now the board will host sessions at Washington-Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

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