RICHWOOD, W.Va. – The Nicholas County Board of Education held its third hearing of the week Friday regarding a consolidation proposal in the county.

The proposal would allow for the closing of Nicholas County High School, Richwood High School and the Nicholas County Career and Technical Center, in order to merge these facilities into one institution.

Richwood Middle and Summersville Middle schools would also be closed and consolidated into one school. Both of these changes could happen as soon as the 2019-2020 school year ends.

The board has previously said consolidation is needed because of flood damage and declining enrollment numbers in Nicholas County Schools.

Richwood Middle, Richwood High and Summersville Middle schools were damaged in the June 2016 flood.

The school board is required to hold a public meeting for each school considered for consolidation.

A majority of the meeting’s speakers were opposed to consolidation, saying larger student populations would hamper relationships in the community and negatively affect academic performance. Speakers at previous meetings have mentioned statistics showing how students score better on tests if they are in smaller classrooms.

Lloyd Atkins, a former president of the board, said consolidation is not the best option for the school district.

“If you consolidate, I can almost guarantee you there will be a bus from Greenbrier County picking up students in the Locust area taking them that direction,” Atkins said to audience applause.

Before consolidation could happen, the West Virginia Board of Education would have to first approve the final proposal.

Nicholas County Schools Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick did not eliminate the possibility of suing the board if the proposal fails.

“Anytime that a board or an entity or individual feels that the law is being violated, they Ave a right to file a lawsuit,” Burge-Tetrick said.

The final meeting regarding consolidation will be March 6 at the Nicholas County Career and Technical Center.

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