Two Fluvanna Schools Could Close, Parents Speak Out
Parents are pleading with the Fluvanna County School Board to keep two small elementary schools open. The community schools are once again on the chopping block to make up for a nearly $1 million budget shortfall.
The school board chairwoman will make a pair of motions to the board at its meeting this week to approve closing Cunningham and Columbia elementary schools.
"Three of my children came to this school, and I was hoping the fourth one would come to this school," said Bridgette Madison, president of the Columbia Elementary Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
Madison and Jenni Clore, Cunningham Elementary School PTA secretary, fear that the strong sense of community built at small schools is disappearing.
"It's not beneficial for any child in Fluvanna," said Clore.
Closing the two small schools would take about 300 kindergarten through second grade students and put them all in Central Elementary School.
Madison calls Central Elementary a 'mega school.' "We're talking about taking the classrooms that are there and dumping more kids into those classrooms," she said.
Fluvanna is facing a $950,000 shortfall for the upcoming school year. One-time funding supervisors gave the schools to fill a budget gap this year will disappear.
"As hard of a decision as it's going to be - whether we decide to close these buildings or decide to keep them open - what other steps are we going to take to find $950,000?" said Camilla Washington, chair of the Fluvanna County School Board.
The school board estimates shutting down the schools would make up most of the shortfall. The closures would also eliminate at least 16 positions.
"When you change people's lives, none of that is easy. When you're talking about closing two schools - that's positions, that's people's livelihoods," said Washington.
"They're trying to make it a Band-Aid. And it really is in the best interest of the children to keep the schools open," said Clore.
Both elementaries were on the chopping block two years ago as part of Fluvanna County's domino plan to shuffle buildings.
The board is expected to vote on the closures at its meeting Wednesday night. That starts at 6:30 at the school board office in Palmyra.
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