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County breaks ground for one school, prepares to close another

ROANOKE COUNTY – Closing one school and building another. That’s the situation the Roanoke County School Board is in right now, as members helped break ground today for a new Masons Cove Elementary School.

The Jan. 29 ceremony came less than 24 hours after school board members and administration faced the ire of parents and residents of Bent Mountain because of plans to close Bent Mountain Elementary School, on the other side of the mountains in Roanoke County.

Masons Cove Elementary teachers and community members join Roanoke County School Board members to break ground for a new Masons Cove Elementary Jan. 29. Photo by Meg Hibbert
Masons Cove Elementary teachers and community members join Roanoke County School Board members to break ground for a new Masons Cove Elementary Jan. 29. Photo by Meg Hibbert

Masons Cove has 200 students in a 49-old-building. Bent Mountain has a total of 59 students. That school would celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. Bent Mountain children will be bussed down the mountain to nearby Back Creek Elementary School.

With today’s economy and facing the need to cut $8 million over the next two school years, Roanoke County school officials have decided they can no longer justify having seven students in a classroom at Bent Mountain, compared to 27 in classrooms at other Roanoke County schools, said School Superintendent Dr. Lorraine Lange.

Members of the school board, Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, teachers and Masons Cove students took part in the groundbreaking. G&H Contracting from Glenvar expects to start construction in February, G&H’s Sheldon Henderson said.

The new school is being built behind the old one, which is expected to meet LEED certification for energy efficiency. Right now, coal is still hand-shoveled to feed the furnace.

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