Brooke Board of Education Sets Dates for Consolidation Hearings in Wellsburg

The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed merger of Brooke County’s seven primary schools into four at a series of public hearings to be held this fall.

The hearings will be held at 6 p.m. on the following dates: Oct. 26 at Franklin Primary School; Nov. 6 at Wellsburg Primary School; Nov. 8 at Hooverson Heights Primary School; Nov. 14 at Colliers Primary School; Nov. 16 at Beech Bottom Primary School; Nov. 20 at L.B. Millsop Primary School; and Nov. 27 at Jefferson Primary School.

Those wishing to speak must register and may do so beginning an hour before the hearing.

The Brooke County Board of Education in August approved plans to bring pupils in grades kindergarten through second together at Hooverson Heights and Wellsburg primary schools, which would be renamed Brooke County Primary North and South; and those in third and fourth grades together at Jefferson and Franklin primary schools, which would be renamed Brooke County Intermediate North and South.

Beech Bottom, Colliers and L.B. Millsop primary schools would be closed.

The board has cited declining enrollment and revenue as the reasons for the mergers. Brooke school officials hope to present the proposed mergers and closings for the state board of education’s approval in December.

Pending that approval, plans call for the merger to occur for the 2018-19 school year, when the county’s new middle school is set to open.

Recently the state board of education approved the county’s request to amend its comprehensive educational facilities plan, which called for the primary schools to be merged into two new buildings, one for the north end and another for the south end.

Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute said the current merger plans are seen as a transition to that scenario.

The plan, which also called for the merger of the two middle schools, was developed in 2010 by a committee of community members and school officials working with the architectural firm of McKinley and Associates and Planning Advocates.

A copy of the plan and data for each of the county’s schools may be reviewed at the board’s office at 1201 Pleasant Ave. for 30 business days beginning Sept. 12. Shute said she welcomes questions about the planned mergers and will attempt to answer them during the hearings.