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Bristol, Va. schools consider consolidation

By Megan Brantley, mbrantley@wcyb.com
Published On: Jan 14 2013 05:05:40 PM CST
bristol schools
BRISTOL, Va. -

To remodel or rebuild? That is the question on the minds of the school board members in Bristol, Virginia.

Educators are trying to figure out what to do with old schools and whether one new facility may be the answer.

"The school board had our retreat this summer, one of our goals was to establish a long-term facility plan," said Bristol, Virginia Superintendent, Mark Lineburg.

Lineburg tells us they're just starting to figure out what to do with the system's oldest schools. "We have an aging fleet of buildings; we haven't built a building since 1974. So you're getting towards 50 years,” he said.

At issue is whether to renovate three buildings or close Stonewall Jackson, Washington-Lee and Highland Elementary. If that were to happen, the system would build one new school and send students from those three elementary schools there.

"This 1938 building, Highland View Elementary, is a really old building and as soon as you shut Highland View down, it puts all of our buildings at capacity," said Lineburg.

But he says it's not that easy. "As we've talked about our facility issues, it's very complex here. It's not just as easy as you shut one down and so forth, because as soon as you shut one down it becomes a race of what you do in the future," said Lineburg.

And Lineburg says because of that, consolidating students from three schools in one new facility is something the school board will examine. "If you shut down and build there's not a whole lot of difference in your budget between costs you'll save on operations, maintenance, and personnel," he said.

He also tells us the location of a new school would be an issue. "If we were to build a new one, where would you put it? You're in a city that is very much landlocked," said Lineburg.

Right now, Lineburg says nothing is near final; they're still in the learning stages. "We're not at a decision point yet, what we're at is a discussion point," he said.

We learned if the school system were to consolidate in one new building that would affect about 1,300 students.

The school board met Monday night to discuss when they will hold a public hearing.