By Meg Dickens
Members of the Shady Valley community came out in droves for the School Board meeting on Thursday, August 8. It was standing room only. One of the main issues focused on was the public’s petition to return Shady Valley Elementary to a PreK-6 grade institution.
Unknown to its advocates, this discussion may lead to a drastic change (closing the school altogether) in the Shady Valley community and a battle against the state.
“You have generated discussion in this county about why we haven’t done something regarding Shady Valley and its enrollment,” School Board Chairman Howard Carlton told advocate Ashley Worlock.
“When the state comes in and looks at this, they’re going to give us one of two choices. Either eliminate Shady because of the cost or spend the same money on all the other students. I can tell you the county government will not give us the money to do that.”
The School Board cites The Johnson County Per Student Expenditure, the cost the county pays per student per school, as a significant problem.
The costs are reportedly higher because of student numbers. Shady Elementary currently has 22 students. Back in its genesis, county records show that Shady housed 285 students.
Guest speaker Rick Campbell addressed the Board concerning students crossing state lines to attend
Edna Miller estimates that the current numbers fall around nine students. The previous year’s bill for 11 students showed an annual tuition rate of $3,902, a debt service cost of $251 charge per student, and a $35 book cost per student, which totals $47,046.50.
According to several Board members, it is less expensive for these students to attend Virginia schools than to bring them back to Shady. These funds also come from the state instead of the county.
“Shady Valley Elementary is essentially getting to the point where it’s closing itself,” said Chairman Carlton. “The issue of Shady Valley continuing is a real issue.”
The School Board will not reconsider their previous decision on Shady, but they will discuss its future in next month’s meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 12, at Central Office, in Mountain City. The public is welcome to attend. Anyone with ideas to preserve this historic school is encouraged to attend.