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Weather no factor as singing children draw crowd to Harrison Co

by Gail Marsh

STAFF WRITER

The winter weather failed to keep away dozens of parents from Tuesday night's Harrison County School Board meeting.

They came to watch their children sing.

A group of first graders from Big Elm Elementary School opened the meeting at Lincoln High School with a selection of patriotic songs. Following their 15-minute performance, nearly all of the parents filed out of the meeting.

In other business, board members approved on first reading a revised policy for the collection, maintenance and disclosure of student data. The minor changes were made to bring the county policy in line with state and federal standards.

During the public forum that followed the regular meeting, Dortha Parsons, a member of Challenge West Virginia, a statewide organization committed to reforming public education policy, asked board members about possible future school closings.

Those closings are outlined in the board's Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan. The plan, which has yet to be approved by the school board, calls for the closure of 13 county schools during the next 10 years.

"I've had children in the Harrison County school system, and now I have grandchildren, and I'm concerned about what priority the board will use in closing the county's smaller schools, she said.

James E. Bennett, president of the board, told Parsons that school closings would be decided by need and by funding available, but said the closings outlined in the plan are not set in stone.

"Five years down the road something may happen that would drastically change our needs, and the plan would then have to be revised. We would go back to the state board and the School Building Authority at that time, and there would be time set aside again for public input," Bennett said.

A final public hearing on the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Bridgeport High School.

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