Dozens of parents, teachers and residents expressed frustrations to the school board Tuesday night over the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors’ sudden vote to repair the old Blacksburg High School building instead of constructing a new one.
Last week, the board of supervisors decided in a surprise 5-2 vote to repair the BHS facility at an estimated cost of $14 million instead of approving the Montgomery County School Board’s proposal for a $124 million new BHS along with a new Auburn High School and a renovated Auburn Middle School.
The issue has split county residents since the BHS gym collapsed on Feb. 13. Now that the board of supervisors has decided, the only people who can bring the issue back to the table would be one of the two members who voted against the decision, chairwoman Annette Perkins and board member Mary Biggs.
After the vote, many residents expressed anger that their points of view were not heard at the meeting before the vote was taken. The vote was not on last Monday’s agenda and was taken at the end of the meeting.
Tuesday night, parents and residents urged the school board to try to challenge the board of supervisors decision.
“As a taxpayer, I support the concept of building a new facility for all Auburn secondary schools and a new Blacksburg High School,” said Stanley Mathis, a Blacksburg resident.
BHS teacher Matthew Repass said he believes investing $14 million in the old BHS building would only create further problems down the road.
“We’re in an area that wants to invent the future, but we’re trying to repair the past,” Repass said.
Some parents expressed concerns for their children’s safety.
“My child will not go back in that school,” said parent Barbara Brady.
Virginia Tech chemistry professor Felicia Etzkorn is concerned about losing businesses and faculty members in the area.
“We have great people, we need to give them good facilities,” Etzkorn said.
School board members also discussed worries over losing students and funding.
“We’re losing them already,” said Joe Ivers, county school board member.
Between both BHS and Blacksburg Middle School enrollment numbers, the county has lost about 75 students from the last academic year to the current one.
The budget for next school year will reflect enrollment changes. School board member Walt Shannon said the county would lose $4,200 per student lost.