It all goes back to the mighty dollar.
It seems that some powers that be will do anything they can to get a new Halifax County High School, regardless of how it may effect younger students across the county.
Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing discussions of closing local elementary schools.
I just don’t agree with it.
Growing up, I attended Wilson Memorial Elementary School, and I was heartbroken when they decided to shut it down.
It was a small school, and we didn’t get to experience changing classes and having multiple teachers for core subjects. We didn’t have a gymnasium spending many physical education classes in the cafeteria, which also served as a place for dances, PTOs or ceremonies.
As far as I’m concerned, we turned out just fine.
We had small class sizes and formed relationships with not only students, but also teachers and staff with many of those relationships maintained today.
We still had the luxury of P.E., music, computer class, library and guidance, and learned from what I considered some of the best teachers, some of which are still teaching today.
My brother and nephew attended Meadville Elementary, and I have witnessed some of those same close-knit community qualities there as well.
I’m sure it’s the same for other smaller schools like Clays Mill, Scottsburg, Sinai and Sydnor Jennings.
Benefits boasted by Small Schools Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes the interests of small schools, are small schools are self-governing, personalized, inclusive, distinctive and focused rather than comprehensive, include stakeholders actively like parents and increase of personal attention, student achievement, safety, student, family and teacher satisfaction.
Local school officials say that consolidation of schools is part of the puzzle that will get county residents a new high school as well as raises for all employees.
I do think that our teachers need to be paid more, and from what I understand, that would be covered by an increase in real estate taxes.
A two cents increase on Halifax County’s real estate tax would bring the rate up to 52 cents, which means anyone with a $100,000 home in the county would pay taxes of $520 a year, rather than $500.
To me, anyone already paying $500 could easily afford the extra $20.
Going back to the high school, yes, a new school is needed to fix some of the issues like the horrible narrow hallways. But, I feel like some of the items that I’ve seen aren’t necessary such as a lounge area. I don’t know about you, but when I was in school, the only breaks I had were lunch, which I spent eating, and the few minutes between class. When do the students have time to lounge?
And what about the price?
Supervisors feel like the price can be kept below $100 million. I keep hearing about Rustburg Middle School, a 136,500 square foot building being completed for $41.3 million for 750 students with room for expansion. Blair Construction along with RRMM Architects is completing the project.
Halifax County High School has a current enrollment of 1,477, so some supervisors believe that a new school could be built for around $82 million.
At the August school board retreat, the entire project for a new high school was said to cost approximately $172,700,000 over 30 years with interest. This isn’t just the cost for the building. This includes items such as demolition and the football stadium.
The cost of a new building that was recently projected by Branch Builds was $118,812,400.
Also, lets talk about the last school board meeting. No, I don’t think there was some conspiracy to get Todd Moser out of the door, even though I feel like some school board members had quite the distaste for him.
But, with Moser gone, the school board knew they had the votes to move forward with all of the plans that they had struggled to get done in the past.
I am glad that they made a move, and I am interested to see where this leads, but I feel like they need to take a hard look at this whole situation with the high school and the elementary schools.
People complain as it is about the overcrowding of one high school, and as far as I’m concerned, larger elementary schools like South Boston Elementary have too many students. I don’t think we need four large primary schools.