FAYETTEVILLE, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – During Thursday night’s regular meeting, the Fayette County Board of Education voted to close Ansted Elementary School and Divide Elementary School, choosing to consolidate the two facilities into a larger, more modern school.
According to Superintendent of Fayette County Schools Gary Hough, the new facility will be called Midland Trail Elementary School and will house Pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
Currently, 214 students attend Ansted Elementary, and 210 attend Divide Elementary, leaving the board to expect more than 400 students to attend Midland Trail following the 2022-2023 school year.
Hough says the project is expected to cost anywhere from $15 to $18 million. Fayette county hopes to fund $6 million of the budget and receive the rest through additional funding sources.
Hough continued, stating the decision to close the two schools is part of a “massive consolidation and reconfiguration” of the county’s entire school system. Over the last several years, the Fayette County Board of Education has consolidated and updated schools across the county, hoping to improve the quality of education. Past projects include Fayetteville High School, Valley High School, and Gatewood Elementary School.
Board Vice-President Stephen Slockett stated that, during the winter of 2015, the School Building Authority came to Fayette County and explored “every nook and cranny” in the school facilities. Slockett says after the inspection, the schools were likened to those of third-world countries.
“I had an awakening,” he said. “I had no idea the condition of our schools and the low achievement of our students.”
Calling the consolidation the “final piece,” Slockett says this project will finally put every student in the county in a safe and modern facility that will help them achieve better academic success.
Hough attributed the closure to the state of the two buildings, which are equipped with decades-old systems and do not accommodate students with disabilities.
“It just didn’t address modern issues for our students,” he said. “We are looking for more opportunities for outdoor spaces and all the new tricks and new toys.
“This is the last of our facilities that we feel we need. I think it gives us longevity for our system, and I am talking the next 30 or 40 years. We consolidated, we have maintained those facilities and we have continued to enhance our instructional opportunities. It is just a major move.”
President of the Fayette Couty Board of Education James Gray said it was amazing to see that the project had the full support of the community. The county held two public meetings earlier this week to hear public comments concerning the schools’ closures.
“This community and this staff, we know there is a need there. The community is just extremely supportive of moving our students forward. You always hate to see a school close, especially in a small town, but we’ve seen nothing but support.”
“This shows that we are progressive,” Hough noted. “We are moving forward, and we are taking a very proactive approach to these facilities but also a proactive approach toward education and educational activities for our students.”
Hough did not give a specific start date for construction of the new facility but said it will be completed by the 2023-2024 school year.
FAYETTE COUNTY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – The Fayette County Board of Education will hold a series of special meetings to consider the possible closure and consolidation of Divide Elementary School and Ansted Elementary School.
The first meeting will pertain to the closure of Divide Elementary School and will be held Tuesday, May 25, at 6 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Divide Elementary School cafeteria in Lookout.
The second meeting will pertain to the closure of Ansted Elementary school and will take place inside the school’s gymnasium at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26.
Both meetings are open to the public. During these meetings, delegations will have the opportunity to address the proposed closures and provide evidence related to the proposal.
According to the Fayette County Board of Education, if approved, the county will close Ansted Elementary School- grades Pre-kindergarten through fifth- and Divide Elementary School- grades Pre-kindergarten through fifth- at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
At the beginning of the 2023 school year, students from the two closed schools will begin attending the newly constructed Midland Trail Elementary School- a Pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade facility located on the Midland Trail campus.
No decisions will be made during Tuesday and Wednesday’s meetings as they are being held to gauge the interest in this proposal.
The Fayette County Board of Education will vote on all the proposed closures on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at 6 p.m. during a regular meeting. The Board will conduct all deliberation in open session, and a vote will be taken in open session following the Board’s decision.
Superintendent of Fayette County Schools Gary Hough was not available for comment concerning the school’s possible closures.