Smyth County

Smyth County may have to close a school over budget cuts

Smyth County may close a school over budget cuts

SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - A school in Smyth County may be forced to close after receiving less money from the state and the board of supervisors.

Sugar Grove Combined School in Smyth County houses around 200 students from kindergarten to eighth grade and may be closing its doors, forcing students to go to another school in the county.

Billy Gwinn has three kids who go to the school. He tells us he has several concerns about the possible closure. "There are kids that have to get up at 6:20 to catch a bus, and if they have to be bussed to Marion they'll have to get up a whole lot earlier than that," he said.

Gwinn isn't alone; parent Nikki Hurt worries too. "All the kids down here know each other. We know their parents. Everybody knows everything that's going on," she said.

Smyth County Schools Superintendent Michael Robinson tells us they are doing everything they can to keep the school open. "If we can get some additional revenue we won't be looking at this," he said. 

Robinson tells us reduced funds from the state and from the Smyth County Board of Supervisors are forcing them to look at cuts, which might include closing the school. "You have a million dollars in new expenses with zero dollars in new revenue coming in," he said.

We learned the school system is faced with a million dollars in new state-mandated expenses, which has caused cuts across the board. They still have half a million left to cut from the budget. "We've cut coaching supplements, we've reduced staff, central office staff, school staff. Everybody's been affected," adds Robinson.    

Meanwhile, parents and community members have started a petition to keep the school open that already has 500 signatures. They plan to give it to the school board. "The kids are like we need a petition we need to sign we want our school to stay," says Hurt.

Robinson tells us if the school closes the middle school students will go to Marion Middle School but no plans have been made on where the elementary students will go.

The school board is holding a public hearing at Sugar Grove Combined School on May 6 at 5:30 about the possible closure.

Robinson tells us they want to hear from parents and community members.

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