Cumberland Times-News

October 22, 2013

Long-range school plans should consider expense

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— I was struck by this point made by Bob Leasure from Abingdon, Va., in his Oct. 10 letter (“Having one public high school would benefit in many ways”), “The No. 1 concern should be the overall long-term expense of having two schools instead of consolidation.”

I heartily agree. There should be a long-range plan, which takes expense into consideration.

Three and a half years ago I spoke at a public hearing during the discussion of the future of the secondary schools in Cumberland. (April 24, 2010).

At the time, I advocated for the renovation of Braddock and Washington Middle Schools because they had been on Allegany County and the board of education’s capital improvements plan for many years.

With the discussion of construction of a new Allegany High School, the board of education discussed its long-range plan — if enrollment drops significantly, high school students could be combined in Fort Hill and middle school students from Braddock and Washington would be moved to the new school. (Special meeting, Aug. 9, 2011).

This plan would resolve the issue of the costs of renovating Braddock and Washington (estimated to be between $9.6 million and $35 million in local costs, according to the school system’s feasibility report of July 2011) and future use of a new high school.

The enrollment of the school system has stabilized for the time being but who knows what the future will bring? It’s good to know that the board of education is planning ahead.

Jackie Sams