School closings under consideration in Wood County

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) Update: 5/2/2019

Wood County Board of Education members say closing of Worthington Elementary School was included in a previous Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan, but never acted on.

Worthington parents want it to stay that way.

"The principals and teachers work well with the students," said Barbara Kincaid, President, Worthington PTA, reading from a prepared statement. "Closing of Worthington will be a big mistake. You cannot overcrowd classrooms."

Kincaid says she and her husband have had three children attend Worthington.

"Parents are talking, and they are concerned with their children having to be uprooted, and placed in a whole new, different environment."

Waverly Elementary parents feel the same way. They fought its closing, as part of the construction of the new Williamstown Elementary, two years ago.

Board President Rick Olcott says three other schools besides Worthington and Waverly, which he did not name, could be slated for closing as well. One of the three, he says, possibly could be a middle school.

A big reason for the possible closings of Worthington, Waverly and others: enrollment, declining by 2,000 in the past decade and a half.

That also means a loss of state aid.

But Olcott says while enrollment has declined, the number of buildings and staff has remained fairly stable.

"We have a lot of buildings that are underutilized right now," Superintendent William Hosaflook said recently, "so we're going to have to look at the best way to utilize the area we have right now, and make it cost-efficient for the taxpayers of Wood County."

An announcement on changes in the district, part of its next comprehensive facilities plan, could come at the end of May.


4/24/2019

Every 10 years. West Virginia schools are required by West Virginia state law to develop a plan for the use of school facilities for the decade ahead.

Wood County administrators are busy right now working on a plan for the next decade.

It will focus on the usual issues: infrastructure, technology and security.

But it will also have to consider the declining enrollment in the school system during the past few years.

And in the future, it could have an effect on where some students will attend classes.

"With a steady decline in enrollment, and state aid is limited," Superintendent Will Hosaflook says, "we do have to begin looking at our resources, even buildings. Improvements in buildings, even combining buildings, things of that nature.

The school system has lost close to 400 students in the past year, which affects how much money it gets in state aid.

The Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan has to be completed by the end of 2020.