Alleghany Highlands Public Schools prepares for consolidation plan with Covington

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT
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ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Alleghany Highlands Public Schools is moving forward with plans to consolidate with Covington in the fall.

In just a few months, students in the Alleghany Highlands will be learning under one school division. It’s a merger that superintendent Kim Halterman explained is more than 40 years in the making.

“We already see increased opportunities for our students in two key areas; one of those areas is extracurricular activities,” Halterman said. “We also have enhancement of our career technical education programs, which has been very important for our community.”

All middle schoolers will go to Covington Middle School at the current Covington High School. High schoolers will learn at Alleghany High School and elementary schools will stay the same.

With more cooperation between the schools, Halterman explained there will be less competition for staffing between Covington and Alleghany.

“We had a much larger number of personnel vacancies before we went through our more very recent process of planning,” Halterman said. “We’re already excited that we were able to shuffle pieces and make sure things worked efficiently for our kids, as well as for our teachers.”

The school board’s vice chairman explained some families were concerned about a larger school division, but emphasized class sizes should remain the same.

“Even coming together, we were still going to be a small school division,” Jonathan Arritt said. “The average school division size in the state of Virginia is over 9,000 students; our size today is 2,700 or just a little under.”

The principle at Jeter-Watson Elementary School explained she sees students’ school spirit for the new schools.

“Each chapter is different, and I think the one that we’re in is the one about opportunities for our students,” Cynthia Morgan said.

School officials are also working on transportation plans before the schools officially consolidate July 1.