CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Harrison County Board of Education (BOE) held its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night where concerns were raised by community members about the proposed consolidation, merging, and closure of schools on the west side of the county.

During the meeting, some residents emotionally spoke to the board and asked questions that they felt were of concern. Some of those questions were about the comprehensive education facilities plan, why merging the schools was needed, and why redistricting options are not being looked into by the board.

“I’ve got two little girls that are elementary students as well, and I just, I don’t want to speak for everybody but we all think that consolidation is just not what is best for these kids and these students, and we have a lot of faith in this board that they want to do what is best for the kids,” said AJ Harman, Liberty High School Physical Education Teacher and Head Football Coach. “It is going to be quite a celebration the day that we find out that W.I. gets what they truly deserve and a new building, and they are going to keep the doors of our schools open as well.”

Officials with Harrison County Schools said that they have been losing enrolment of students for the last ten years and that COVID had a great impact increasing that decline. Those officials added that there are now opportunities for virtual learning, homeschooling, charter schools, and Hope Scholarship opportunities.

“My thing is, is to keep an open mind, look at the whole big picture. We are going to have emotions because it is dealing with our kids and it is dealing with where they go every day and it is a change,” said Dora Stutler, Superintendent of Harrison County Schools. “But I am asking that people keep an open mind and look at the big picture. We are trying to provide more services for our kids not less.”

Stutler also said that there have been talks about redistricting that would deplete one school or another. “I don’t know that, that is a true plan,” she said. Stutler added that the BOE is currently looking at the number of facilities and the number of students to be able to run a school system that is economically sound using the facilities they have.