State BOE votes to close 3 Kanawha County elementary schools

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education has voted to close three Kanawha County elementary schools after the 2023-2024 school year.

Debra Sullivan

The board on Wednesday gave final approval on recommendations from the Kanawha County Board of Education to close George C. Weimer Elementary in St. Albans, Grandview Elementary in Charleston and Marmet Elementary in Marmet citing budget constraints and declining student enrollment.

Public hearings were held earlies this spring before the local school board voted to close and consolidate each of the three schools.

Grandview will merge with Mary C. Snow West Side and Edgewood schools. Weimer will consolidate with Alban and Bridgeview schools. Marmet will merge with Chesapeake Elementary.

State BOE member Debra Sullivan said before Wednesday’s vote it’s never easy to close a school.

“It’s heart wrenching. It’s unfortunate that we can’t have small schools in every community. I realize there are financial concerns that really almost dictate what you’re having to do,” Sullivan told Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Tom Williams.

Williams told board members there has been mixed reaction from students and parents.

Tom Williams

“The schools are three or four miles apart and the kids do a lot of things together anyway through youth sports and things like that, but they weren’t pleased,” he said.

Williams said there would still be a lot of opportunities for students during the transition.

“The activities and things the two schools can do together so that when they consolidate the year after next, it will be a smooth transition as possible for the kids,” he said.

Sullivan asked Williams how classroom sizes will be impacted with the mergers. Williams said teachers will be able to determine how many students are in their classes, per state rules.

“All of these schools that we proposed today are Title 1 schools, so they can now use Title 1 teachers,” he said. “For example, if they think that 22 is too big for a classroom, they can use one of their Title 1 teachers to split that classroom.”

Williams said the annual savings for closing all three of the elementary schools will be around $1.6 million.