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Roanoke school board votes to shut down Huff Lane Elementary

June 10, 2010
  • But some think the real reason is the school system wants to sell the Huff Lane property to Valley View Mall or a commercial developer.
But some think the real reason is the school system wants to sell the Huff Lane property to Valley View Mall or a commercial developer.

UPDATED:  11:05 p.m.

Parents in Roanoke City are angry a school could become a business for Valley View Mall.

On Thursday night, the Roanoke City school board made the difficult decision to close a school because of budget cuts and it's receiving plenty of criticism.

The school board voted to close Huff Lane Elementary and send those students down the road to Round Hill.

The combined K-5 school will house more than four hundred students this fall.

It clearly a touchy subject for the school board.

The chairman pointed out the only decision was whether to close Huff Lane.

But many who live nearby say the board is only seeing dollar signs.

"The announcement that Huff Lane may close made me sick to my stomach," said Virginia Moser.

One by one parents and residents who live near Huff Lane Elementary pleaded with the school board to keep it open.

"It's crazy just to save money you're going to put them in modulars. They have a place to stay. Leave them where they are," said Shuna Hewitt.

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Opponents are also angry because until two weeks ago the school system was considering closing Round Hill, not Huff Lane.

They fear the school board is rushing to make a decision.

"I know time is of the essence but to quote the great coach John Wooden if we don't have time to fix something right the first time how long do you think it will take later when we correct it?," asked Edgar Moser.

Administrators say there are two main reasons for the change.

Round Hill just received a new half million dollar roof and Huff Lane may need costly and timely underground septic work.

But some think the real reason is the school system wants to sell the Huff Lane property to Valley View Mall or a commercial developer.

"I'm frightened and alarmed that there's even the hint that they school, and or it's property, and or the park would in anyway shape or form sold," said Raymond McKee.

In the end, the school board voted five to zero to close Huff Lane.

School board members say the decision was a tough one, but the right one in a tough budget year.

Some feel that by possibly selling this property down the road for commercial reasons that the City is putting financial needs in front of education needs. 

"I can understand how folks will look at that but the fact of the matter is the number one best thing for the students of our school system is having great teachers," said David Carson.

He's referring to the fact the closure of Huff Lane will save the school system 419-thousand dollars, which will save ten teaching jobs.

The school board will decide at a later time whether to sell the Huff Lane property. It's unclear how much that real estate could go for.

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Roanoke is shutting down Huff Lane Elementary school.

The school board voted 5-0 Thursday night to close the school.

Thursday's school board meeting took place at Breckinridge middle school.

The board met to decide which school would get shuttered, Huff Lane, or Round Hill Elementary.

Originally the school system wanted to close Round Hill and move those students to Huff Lane.

But two weeks ago, the school system made a surprise announcement.

The superintendent recommended closing Huff Lane and moving those students to Round Hill.

A new roof on Round Hill, the possibility of underground septic work needed at Huff Lane, and the Huff Lane property being easier to sell were all factors in the reversal.

It's expected the Huff Lane property is prime real estates because of its close proximity to Valley View Mall.

We'll have more on the decision, and reaction on News 7 at 11 on Your Hometown Station.

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