By Max Hrenda
For more than a year, officials with the Carter County Board of Education have been discussing the idea of eliminating as many as 10 schools from the system.
For Range Elementary, those discussions have hit much closer to home.
During a workshop meeting Thursday, Director of Schools Kevin Ward advised the school board to consider closing Range Elementary.
Though Ward said the decision was difficult to reach, he explained that the closing could save the school system up to $350,000.
“We’re going to need recurring savings,” Ward said, after the meeting. “We need to have savings we can count on year-in and year-out, to develop a budget we can operate year-in and year-out without cutting the way we have been.”
If Range were to close, Ward suggested merging the student body with that of Central Elementary, which he said could successfully handle the influx of students.
“We looked at operations to see what we could absorb and where,” Ward said. “(Buses) will do the same route, make a U-turn and go to Central. The 105 kids are absorbable, so we don’t need a new building.”
Acknowledging that the final decision is far from reached, school board members said they expect to hear many strong opinions from the community when the board holds its workshop on March 25.
“As of now, I haven’t heard anything from the people in the Range community,” said School Board Chairman Kelly Crain. “But I’m sure we’ll hear plenty when we meet in March, which is fine.”
Some community members have already begun to express their concern over Range’s potential closing.
Watauga resident Beecher O’Quinn, who attended Range in his youth, said he expects staunch opposition to the proposal.