It's an idea that just won't go away in Bedford County: closing schools to save money.
As we've reported, the school board has considered shutting down several schools over the last five years. Now, a consulting firm is bringing the topic back up for discussion.
A company called Prismatic Services believes Bedford County could save millions of dollars by shutting down two aging schools. The suggestion is one of 101 recommendations the firm made to Bedford County's school board at a public meeting Thursday night.
Bedford Primary and Moneta Elementary schools were both built around 50 years ago. Consultants say those schools have low enrollments, and they don't expect their numbers to go up any time soon.
Prismatic's study suggests attendance zones in Bedford County could be re-worked and students could be moved to other schools nearby. Bedford Primary could possibly stay open as a preschool, which is something the school board considered doing several years ago.
Parents in Moneta say closing their school will destroy their community.
"It's very upsetting that this is a possibility for our children," said Tammy Goode, a mother of three Moneta Elementary students. "(Consultants) say it will effect the parents more than the kids, but the kids understand what's happening. They love coming here."
Moneta Elementary is already facing a serious maintenance issue. The school's drain field, which collects sewage from a septic tank, partially failed several weeks ago. There are several options for fixing the problem, but both will cost around $500,000. School leaders commented Thursday night that it may be cheaper to close the school rather than fix the problem.
Superintendent Doug Schuch says the school board will need to make a decision about the school's fate within a matter of days.
"We would need to inform the public and the communities sooner versus later, and we would have a tremendous amount of planning to do to make sure that we were ready for students in the fall," Schuch told reporters Friday.
The school board has not had a chance to formally meet and discuss any of the consultants suggestions. They just saw the presentation for the first time Thursday night. Their next meeting is currently scheduled for May 29.