Bedford County School Board Chairman Defends Decision To Close Body Camp

Bedford Co., VA- Reaction is very strong in Bedford County to the decision to close Body Camp Elementary School, but the School Board says they had to do it to save millions of dollars. ABC 13 News spoke with the School Chairman Gary Hostutler Friday. Hostutler says Thursday night's meeting was difficult, but the decision is final. It does not have to go before any other committees. Hostutler also feels confident this is the best decision for all involved, saying the decision will save the county eight hundred thousand dollars a year; money that will go right back into the school system."Body Camp frankly is a very old building and very out-dated and it's going to have some maintenance issues coming up very soon," said Hustutler.Closing the school will mean big changes for the entire Staunton River District, however. It's not just Body Camp students who will be re-arranged."We've got to figure out where they're going to go and then potentially it could be kind of a daisy chain effect that they could move kids that might be in Moneta now, some of the Moneta kids could end up going to Goodview." said Hustutler.Since so many changes are coming, the school board decided to keep Body Camp open one more school year to allow for more planning time."We want to have some public hearings to show people how the maps will look, which streets will go to which school, and get some of their impact." said Hustutler.Hostutler says if they had decided to keep both schools open, they would not follow the reversion agreement and efficiency study and could risk losing $90 million over the next 15 years."That could be very detrimental to the whole school system." said Hustutler.Hustutler says small schools are not efficient and it just costs more than it's worth to keep Body Camp up and running. Hustutler says at larger schools it costs about $6,000 to educate each student. At Body Camp, the same cost it $8,400. It was clear to school board members that Body Camp had to go."We're going to try to make this as smooth as possible." said Hustutler.But that's bound to be a tough sell for many in the county. One parent called the decision a "grave mistake," saying she and many other parents are very angry over the decision.Hostutler says keeping both schools open would force an increase in property taxes of 10 cents per $100, which would mean an extra $100 hundred dollars per year on a hundred thousand dollar house.
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