Closing two schools could save $700K

The Barbour County Board of Education is proposing to close two elementary schools in order to save about $700,000 annually and avoid major renovation costs, according to information released by the board Tuesday.

The Barbour BOE announced a plan Monday to conduct public hearings for comments regarding the proposed closure of Volga-Century Elementary and Mount Vernon Elementary schools, and the consolidation of students from those schools with Philippi Elementary School.

On Tuesday, the BOE released documents stating the request for closure is to be effective at the completion of the coming school year. Volga-Century and Mount Vernon students would begin attending Philippi Elementary beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

The documents stated the board’s reasons for wanting to close Volga-Century include the need for major renovations to the school’s roof, heating and air conditioning systems, floor coverings and lighting; a decrease in student enrollment; and “a redistribution of resources for the benefit of all students in Barbour County.”

According to state guidelines, the recommended “utilization” percentage for schools, which is based on attendance, is 85 percent. Currently the utilization of Volga-Century Elementary School is only 30 percent, the documents stated.

Reasons given for the proposed closing of Mount Vernon Elementary School include the need to replace the school’s roof, heating and air conditioning system and lighting; an enrollment decrease; and that the school’s utilization is only 36 percent.

Volga-Century currently has 61 students and Mount Vernon Elementary has 73 students.

About $708,580.18 would be saved annually by closing the schools, including savings related to facility, personnel and transportation, the documents stated.

The board also anticipates its efforts to receive project funding will be enhanced by closing the schools.

According to the current comprehensive education facility plan, the cost avoidance figure for Volga-Century Elementary is $2,091,595, while the Mount Vernon figure is $2,032,049. This means that more than $4 million would be removed from the county’s CEFP total, which could possibly help the county receive funding for other schools.

The overall anticipated reduction in personnel for the proposed closures is 3.66 professional positions and 5 service positions, according to the documents.

The proposed school closings would coincide with the movement of fifth-grade students in the county from the elementary schools to middle schools, a movement that the board approved in July and will begin with the 2014-2015 school year.

The public hearing regarding the proposed closure of Volga-Century Elementary will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 and, if needed, Sept. 17 at the school’s multipurpose room.

The hearing on the proposed closing of Mount Vernon Elementary will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 18 and, if needed, Sept. 19 at the school.

The public hearing regarding the consolidation of students with Philippi Elementary School is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sept. 24 and, if needed, Sept. 25 at the school.

After all testimony and questions to school officials, the board will vote on the proposed action Sept. 30. If needed, the meeting may also be continued to Oct. 1.

The public may attend the hearings, where they will be able to submit statements, testimony and questions.

Details of the procedure for submitting written materials and speaking with or questioning board members is available online at