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Schools May Close In Brooke Co.

February 21, 2011
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WELLSBURG - Sometime before 2020, the voters in Brooke County could have a chance to vote on closing nine schools and building three new facilities.

Last year, the Brooke County Board of Education took the first step toward implementing a proposal by approving the district's state-required Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan for 2010-20.

The proposal calls for Brooke's seven primary schools and two middle schools to close. They would be replaced by two new primary schools at opposite ends of the county and a single middle school located near Brooke High School.

Under the plan, the high school also would receive upgrades.

Prior to the vote, Colliers resident Tim Cain spoke out against consolidation.

He told board members that young children need more one-on-one attention than he believes can be provided in a large school, and he worries that, when closed, the empty school buildings will become a hotbed of drug activity.

Fact Box

Are any local schools in danger of closing in the near future?

Yes, as in Brooke County alone, the board of education approved a plan that calls for the county's seven elementary schools and two middle schools to close sometime in the next 10 years, to be replaced by two new elementary schools and a single middle school.

Board member Jim Piccirillo said with declining enrollment, "we cannot afford the schools we have," and new buildings would enable Brooke County to employ the technology necessary to educate students in the 21st century.

In order to pay for new, state-of-the-art school buildings under the plan, county voters would have to approve a bond levy of about $30 million.

Marty Bartz, director of facilities, said the proposal is merely a road map for where the county would like to be in 2020, and is subject to change.

"That's your goal," Bartz told board members, referring to the plan.

"And that goal can change every year," Bartz said.

Also last year, Wetzel County Board of Education members considered the possible consolidation of Paden City High School with Magnolia High School, a move that some believed would have save the district a considerable amount of money by closing Paden City High School.

Board members ultimately voted to keep Paden City High School open.

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