Lincoln County Schools officials reviewing options amid concerns about structures safety

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lincoln County Schools officials are reviewing its options for teaching Duval PreK-8 students following the closure of the school and the relocation of its population.

The Griffithsville school has been closed since July after engineers discovered structural issues with the school building. The Lincoln County Board of Education proposed relocating students to three different locations; students in pre-K through second grade will remain on the campus in a different building, while third, fourth and fifth-grade students will use classrooms at Hamlin PreK-8 and the remaining students will use former career and technical education spaces at the county board office.

Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Jeff Kelley told the West Virginia Board of Education last week that local officials began talks in May about the possibility of moving students, adding staff will continue examining the issue, including the possible use of Midway Elementary School in Alum Creek.

“If something happens and Midway shuts down next month, I don’t know what that is going to look like,” he said. “That’s a conversation that we’re having now, and then you’re talking about another 15 minutes on those bus numbers there.”

The Lincoln County Board of Education sought a waiver from the state Board of Education because of the increased travel time. Board members considered the matter during its meeting.

“It appears that over 50% of the over 217 bus riders in the middle school will be going to the central office will be going on buses longer than the maximum 45 minutes which is recommended,” state Board of Education member Debra Sullivan said.

“Twenty-seven of those students will be on buses for more than an hour each way. That’s a long, long day for children.”

Kelley also noted consolidation of schools is a likely option to prevent future closures of multiple institutions.

“Unfortunate,” Sullivan said.

“I understand,” Kelley responded.

The state Board of Education in June voted to extend a state of emergency for the school system because of concerns about finances, overtime, transportation and personnel.