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West Virginia state board approves closing of elementary in Randolph County

March 17, 2017
Valley Head Elementary has only 27 students.

The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to close an elementary school in Randolph County that has only 27 students .

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the the state board's vote to shutter Valley Head Elementary comes after Randolph County school board members already had voted to close the school. Before deciding, state board members questioned Randolph school officials for an hour.

“What I hoped to see was a very precise, comprehensive evaluation of why they were where they were and to see if there were any alternatives,” says State Board President Tom Campbell, an opponent of past consolidations who had pushed to see if there were any way to avoid closing the school. "“What I was insistent on last time was a full vetting. We got a full vetting.”

The vote came after board members heard about and discussed the ways the state school aid funding formula differentiates -- and doesn’t differentiate -- the amount of money distributed to counties based on population density.

Randolph Schools Superintendent Pam Hewitt says the district last closed schools in 1976. Enrollment in county schools has dropped by 2,000 over the past 30 years, and now stands at 3,093.

Valley Head has split grade classrooms, meaning multiple grade levels of students are being taught by the same teacher.

“I think in the long run this is what’s best for kids,” says state board member Miller Hall of the closure. “Having 26 kids, and over the next four or five years, gaining four or five more, I don’t think that’s where you need to be.”

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