Funding cuts may force Franklin County (Virginia) district to close some schools

Jan. 11, 2024
To address a projected cut of $3.7 million in state funding, the district has discussed closing 1 to 3 elementary schools.

The Franklin County (Virginia) school district has raised the possibility of closing some of its elementary schools because of a $3.7 million reduction in state funding.

The Roanoke Times reports that the biggest cost-saving measure under consideration is to close one to three elementary schools. Superintendent Kevin Siers said the estimated savings would be about $1 million per closed school.

State funding is expected to decrease from $49.9 million to $46.2 million in the coming fiscal year starting July 1.

The Covid-19 pandemic led many parents to remove their children from public schools and enroll in private schools or opt for home schooling. That has resulted in an enrollment reduction of nearly 1,000 students since 2020. The district's enrollment is now 5,790.

Closing schools would come with a wide range of problems, Siers said. It might create an exodus of employees. It also might persuade more parents to choose homeschooling or another school system.

Another cost-saving option would be to combine elementary bus routes with secondary bus routes in the county. But parents may object having their elementary school students on the same bus as high school students.

Siers said the cuts being discussed were the only ways administrators knew of to make the necessary reductions.

“If the funding is not available, we have to come with $3.7 million somehow,” Siers said.

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