CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The superintendent of Harrison County Schools has proposed the consolidation of multiple schools in the county, and some people are expressing their opposition.

In a work session on Thursday, superintendent Dora Stutler announced the plans to combine after recent speculation:

  • Liberty High School with Robert C. Byrd High School into the current RCB building
  • Washington Irving Middle School with Mountaineer Middle into the current Liberty High School building
  • Salem Elementary School with North View Elementary School into the current Mountaineer Middle School building

All three consolidated schools would have a tentative opening date of the 2025–26 school year, in the proposal. Although no decisions have been made, preliminary evaluations from architects suggest that the combinations are the best option, but Board of Education members don’t all agree on the project timeline.

Currently, Liberty’s building is at 39% student capacity, with 449/1174, and Robert C. Byrd is at 56% capacity with 714/1262, according to Stutler. The combined student bodies of WI (535) and Mountaineer Middle (358) would utilize about 76% of the Liberty High School building.

This comes just months after Norwood Elementary in Stonewood was forced to undergo an emergency closure due to structural issues just weeks before the new school year began. Also in recent years, Adamston and Wilsonburg elementary schools were each closed and consolidated into Victory Elementary School. Stutler said if the consolidation happens, it would be the last one in the county for a while.

Stutler also said that current employees will be taken care of no matter what. “We will overstaff that building to make it work correctly,” Stutler said.

A large group of Liberty students and parents attended the meeting to oppose the possible merger, and representatives from each affected school were present at the meeting.

Attendees at the Harrison County Board of Education work session on Sept. 21, 2023 (WBOY image)

Teachers voiced concerns of larger class sizes making it harder for students to learn, and longer travel distance would make it harder for families to get their kids to school.

A special meeting with be held in the next few weeks to continue the discussion.