Albmarle schools superintendent opts against closing three elementary schools

County Superintendent Pam Moran recommended renovation of three county schools at an Albemarle County School Board work session yesterday.

The meeting was held to discuss how best to allocate capitol improvement funds. Previously, the superintendent was considering combining Red Hill, Yancey and Scottsville Elementary into one larger school, to be housed in Walton Middle School. Studies by engineers and architects, however, determined that Walton’s septic drain field system could not support a student body of 650.

In a statement released today, the School Board projects that the current cost to build a brand-new school for 650 students would be $20.4 million. If the Board were to take Moran’s recommendation, renovating the three smaller elementary schools—each currently has fewer than 200 students—would cost $17.1 million.

In addition to the cost benefits, Moran sited many community-based reasons for renovation, including, "the difficulty of building a school large enough for all students in the three schools at the proposed site adjacent to Walton Middle School; strong community support for maintaining the three small elementary schools; a lack of compelling evidence that the size of the school affects student achievement; the history and community value of the schools at their present sites," according to the release.

The School Board will hold a public meeting on this matter September 29 at 7pm in the auditorium of Monticello High School, and is scheduled to make a decision October 22.