Bristol, Va. school board hears public input on potential sites for new school

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – At a called meeting Monday, the Bristol, Virginia School Board heard input from the public about the site selection for the proposed Intermediate School Plan. No decision was made.

“We have three very viable options, you know, going all the way from budget-neutral to just an increased appropriation of $250,000, so I think that is very doable, even in the current financial situation our city council is in,” BVPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Perrigan said. “I think it’s time now to take action and to quit talking and discussing about it.”

Three options were presented for discussion: building an intermediate school at Van Pelt Elementary School; renovating Washington Lee Elementary to create a state-of-the-art school; or renovating Washington Lee Elementary to create an American Disabilities Act-compliant school.

“We have some options that are available to provide the type of facilities that our students need and deserve, you know,” Perrigan said Monday. “Currently, three of our buildings are completely handicap-inaccessible… everybody agreed, it’s time to make a change to that.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Thought of new schools brings controversy to joint workshop in Bristol, Virginia

“I’ve been on this school board since 2004, we have been talking about this for a long time…” BVPS School Board Vice-Chair Ronald Cameron said Monday. “We’ve gone to every elementary school, we’ve had numerous public hearings, we have listened to people, but in the end, it’s time to do something.”

The Intermediate School Plan originally consisted of creating a brand new school for grades two through five.

“I am going to challenge the city council to trust the school board that’s elected to make this decision. It is up to us to decide what our kids need and where this school needs to be,” Cameron added.

Safety was a major public concern for speakers at the Monday meeting.

Bristol, Va. native, Don Ashley spoke at the forum. He said Monday that he would like the school board to choose the originally proposed plan.

The original plan would lead to permanently closing three elementary schools: Highland View, Stonewall Jackson, and Washington Lee Elementary Schools.  Van Pelt Elementary School would remain open and undergo renovation.  The new intermediate school would be built on Van Pelt’s property.

“In my mind, the Van Pelt Plan is still the best plan,” Ashley said. “We have one high school in the city, we have one middle school in the city, having one elementary campus is a good plan.”

Van Pelt Elementary sits on 32 acres of land is already owned by the city.  Therefore, be no extra cost of land for the project.

PREVIOUS STORY: Bristol Virginia Public Schools hosts the first of four public forums on Intermediate School Plan

No decision was made by the board on Monday. The next scheduled BVPS school board meeting is scheduled for November 4.

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