BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — Buchanan County Public Schools (BCPS) officials hosted a public hearing Dec. 29 in regard to school consolidation plans.
This followed after Buchanan County Board of Supervisors requested the school board postpone the meeting due to the ongoing surge of novel coronavirus cases in Southwest Virginia.
Several community members voiced their thoughts surrounding consolidation plans at Tuesday night’s meeting from a handful of locations.
News Channel 11 monitored the meeting, which was streamed virtually on the BCPS website and Facebook.
Many concerned parents addressed issues such as long bus routes as a result of a consolidation, but a handful of parents spoke in support of the idea.
A motion was made to consolidate Grundy, Hurley and Twin Valley high schools at Southern Gap.
It passed 4-2.
Upon discussion, Knox District Vice Chairman Robbie Cline emphasized that “no one is against a new school; they’re against the location.”
Numbers don’t lie. A majority don’t want [this consolidation]. Nobody is against a new school; they’re just against the location. It’s not right…It’s our purpose to represent everybody in this county — every child is why we’re here. Not just your child, not just your children, not just yours. We’re here for everybody, and it’s our duty to represent them…We’re supposed to look out for our own, and we’re not. It’s wrong. It’s disrespectful.Robbie Cline, Knox District Vice Chairman
Another school official refuted with present bus route times, naming off hour-long bus rides a handful of students already endure throughout the school week.
“There are six buses in Grundy that are over 60-minute runs right now,” he said. “There’s five buses in Grundy over 75 minutes, and there’s two going 85 minutes. Twin Valley has seven [bus routes] over 60 minutes, seven over 70 minutes. Hurley has three buses that are over 60 minutes. Zero over 70 [minutes]. Zero over 80 [minutes]. So, our kids already know what 80 minutes on a bus is.”
In regard to keeping the school buildings, one school official warned the board that the funding simply isn’t there.
“I do feel like that we cannot forget that we have looked at what the costs are of upgrading the buildings that we have in the county,” she said. “We have looked at all that; the money’s not there…the funding is not there for those buildings.”
News Channel 11 reached out to Trey Adkins, a member of the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors, who said he plans to file an injunction in court to stop the consolidation.