Parents, Businesses Fighting to Save Moneta School

Bedford Co., VA - Emotions among parents and teachers are rising in Bedford County as the school board considers if they're going to close an elementary school. Business owners in Moneta are rallying around the school. Thursday night, the Chairman of the Bedford County School Board is shedding some light on the decision making process. The proposed closure of Moneta Elementary School is a touchy subject around town. With a public hearing scheduled for next week, community members and parents are left searching for answers. Abraham Dolce's granddaughter, attends Moneta Elementary School. She'll be entering her second year there in the fall, if the school is still open. "She doesn't like it right now, she's upset about it," Dolce said. "When they told her it was going to close, she got scared, and didn't want to go back." Now, Moneta area businesses are joining in the fight to keep the school open. In fact, School Board Chairman Gary Hostutler is hearing from the public on these proposed closures, in large volumes. "We've gotten a fair amount of emails, I've gotten some phone calls, as people are bringing up their concerns with what's going to happen with their students," Hostutler said. A privately conducted efficiency report recommended closing Moneta Elementary School. The septic system there needs major repairs but Hostutler says that wasn't part of the equation. "They don't know the conditions of the roofs, they don't know the conditions of the boilers, the chillers, the water line, the septic system, they don't know all that. So we wanted to make sure that we're comparing a good "apples to apples", in terms of the long term repairs that will be needed at both schools," Hostutler said. With so much uncertainty, local parents and businesses are concerned on what might happen with their kids come next fall. "I would not have a child on a bus for 45 minutes to leave from the other side of Moneta, to go 45 minutes, to leave at 6:15 in the morning, when it's dark out," explained Business Owner Karen Smith. Hostutler says that he expects the board to look at closing a school in the Liberty attendance zone next year, either Bedford Primary or Thaxton Elementary. The septic system issues at Moneta, he says, forced the board to look at these schools first. A public hearing on the proposed closures is scheduled for June 2.