It's a tale of two school systems and a discussion they've had more than once: should they, or shouldn't they?

"I think I can speak for both boards, we're both interested in what's best for the education of children in our area. So, we're going to sit down Thursday and see what comes out of it and go from there," explains Alleghany County School board member Billy Angle.

Previous boards have had the discussion whether to consolidate and there was even a referendum in 2010 that residents voted down.
But, now the divisions have decided to revisit the issue.

"Though we're faced with dwindling finances, when the bottom fell out of the economy we all suffered... particularly school systems, but it takes dollars to run school systems," explains Covington School Superintendent Thomas Long.

Long says enrollment is holding steady at just more than 900-students, that's slightly up from last year.

Things are a little less stable in Alleghany County.
This year, there are just under 24-hundred students compared to 2580-last year.
And, this summer, Alleghany County closed two elementary schools because of low attendance and budget concerns.

Explains Angle, "I think it has come to a time for our whole area, we've lost so many people in our area over the last several years and it has become harder and harder to run both school systems."

Both sides stress that these are just talks and nothing has been decided.

"What's important is the students and to provide the students an appropriate education and the most appropriate education within your means - and sometimes it requires those decisions, though perhaps they're unpopular," says Long.

The meeting is Thursday night at 7o'clock at the Jackson River Technical Center in Covington.

The meeting is open to the public, but at this point, the groups aren't taking comments, it's just spit-balling some ideas.

Both sides expect more meetings in the future