Reporter/Lynchburg Bureau Chief
4:16 PM EST, January 29, 2013
CAMPBELL COUNTY, Va.
Four high schools in four different communities. That's how education has worked in Campbell County for at least 50 years, but the tradition may be coming to an end.
Consultants are recommending a plan to consolidate the county's middle and high schools. The current ones are spread out in the county's four corners, but the consolidated buildings would be more centralized.
Brookville and Altavista students would go to the western school. Rustburg and William Campbell kids would attend the eastern school.
"I think it's a ridiculous idea," said Renee Womack, a Campbell County resident. "There would be too many kids and too few schools."
Consultants say their plan would balance out enrollment. While Altavista and William Campbell have less than 500 students, Rustburg and Brookville have around 1,000.
Some worry the larger schools would erase community pride.
"There is much more camaraderie is a smaller school, so I appreciate a small school rather than a large school," said Campbell County resident, Donald Sale.
There's also a question of funding.
The new schools would cost $184-million. Some believe the price tag would be paid with higher taxes.
"That would be a bad idea," said Campbell County resident, William Stiffler, Jr. "The taxes are getting to be so bad, you can hardly live anymore."
Under the plan, the William Campbell and Rustburg middle and high schools could be the first to shut down and consolidate. Those school buildings are among the oldest in the county.
Some believe consolidation makes good economic sense: the county needs new schools anyway and the larger buildings could provide opportunities that aren't available in the current setup.
"I think if it will improve education and save the taxpayers money, by upgrading the schools and making them more cost effective, I think that's a good thing," said Campbell County resident, Bill Alvis.
School board members will hear comments on the consolidation plan at a public hearing February 11. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Campbell County Techinal Center, behind Yellow Branch Elementary School. A vote on the idea could be taken later that evening.
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