Alleghany County and Covington City merger discussions

Alleghany County and Covington City merger discussions (Image 1)
Alleghany County and Covington City merger discussions (Image 1)

ALLEGHANY COUNTY (WSLS 10) – Leaders from Alleghany County and Covington City asked the local school systems to see if merging the two would work.

“We went to the table really trying to decide if we could give our students a better education in a merged system,” said Tammy Scruggs-Duncan, the Covington City School board chair.

After more than a year of discussion there are still a lot of details to work out.

“This should have happened probably about 30 years ago but this area people just fight constantly amongst each other,” said George Catlett, who lives in the city of Covington.

“I think it’s time to lay down your selfishness. It’s time to think about the future, not just now, and not what it was 10 to 20 years ago. We have to think about tomorrow,” said Theresa McCoy who is an Alleghany County graduate, parent and school bus driver who thinks the schools need to merge. “People want to get caught up in the idea of who they are and where they’re grounded and what they bleed and don’t bleed. The truth of the matter is we all bleed blood and we’ve got to get over the bad blood and come together for the benefit of everybody.”

While it may be a while before two become one both school board chairs believe students need to move toward project based learning.

“The concept is that you teach students their information by allowing them to work through projects,” said Scruggs-Duncan.

While there are some things the two school systems agree on there are still a lot of things that need to happen to make the merger work

“If you’re not treating everybody the same somebody’s going to feel left out and that’s not going to help it at all. It will only start problems for us for day one but if you do it right from day one and start off the right way then when it does happen then everybody will be okay with it,” said Randy Tucker, the Alleghany County School board chairman.

“I’m not sure it’s an us versus them more than it is money. I just keep hearing ‘We need to do this so that school doesn’t cost as much’,” said Scruggs-Duncan.

Scruggs-Duncan says she doesn’t want to sacrifice education. Meanwhile Tucker says they’re trying to make sure no jobs are lost. Tucker says transportation, salaries and maintenance are major factors.

Scruggs-Duncan says for them it comes down to a super majority. The future board would be made up of seven members including 4 people from the county and three from the city. 5 votes would be needed to pass a major issue but she says the county won’t agree to a super majority.

“I think it just comes down to giving us one vote at the table that counts as we do planning for our kids in the future. i think it’s down to that one vote,” said Scruggs-Duncan.

Both chairs say believe the merge can and will happen if they can agree. Right now the discussion seems to be stalled.  Alleghany’s new superintendent starts this summer and Tucker says it will be up to them to continue the discussion. 

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