RUSSELL COUNTY, Va. - At school teachers and kids form a special bond; they become like a small family.
A new school year will bring new classmates, teachers, and schools for kids who go to Cleveland and Elk Garden Elementary Schools in Russell County. "They have both actually begged me to home-school them. They have cried and cried they do not want this adjustment," said parent Suzanna Lockhart.
The adjustment in question-- the two schools will be closing their doors and forcing the kids to go to another school. "That's kind of all we had left to bring the community together," said parent Heather McDonald-Taylor.
Russell County Schools Superintendent Brenda Hess told News 5 the cuts were due to revenue tax shortages in the county after reductions in state and federal funds. Hess released a statement to us, saying, "The school board chose to close the oldest school in the division as well as a second school to meet the needs of our reduced budget."
Some of the kids will be bused to Lebanon Primary School, and one thing that concerns parents is more kids in the classroom. "Next year they'll go into class sizes of probably 25, the max allowed by law. At Cleveland my son is in a class with 19 and he's done extremely well with that," said McDonald-Taylor.
We learned another concern is long bus rides for the students, but the distance is also a concern for parents. "I am 30 to 35 minutes in my car to get to Lebanon if something happened," said parent Kimberly Yates.
Other parents are worried the kids won't have someone they feel comfortable talking to about problems. "They'll be in a different school and they won't have that person to feel comfortable around," said parent Martha Combs.
The parents tell me they understand the tight budget, but wish the schools could have been saved.
We also learned all of the teachers from the schools have been moved to schools where the students are going or where they are needed because of retirement.
The school system is now working on where to place the support staff.