Cooley

The Clarke County School Board has voted to close the D. G. Cooley Elementary School upper campus in Berryville.

BERRYVILLE — Starting with the 2019-20 school year, the D.G. Cooley Elementary School upper campus will be shuttered.

The Clarke County School Board voted Monday night to close the 53-year-old building, located at 34 Westwood Road, which currently serves prekindergarten and kindergarten students.

Kindergarteners who would have attended the D.G. Cooley upper campus will now go to the lower campus, located at 240 Westwood Road (formerly the high school). The lower campus currently serves students in first through fifth grades.

Prekindergarten students will move to Boyce Elementary School, according to Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Bishop.

The decision to shutter the upper campus was prompted by a drop in the number of elementary students in the county. Enrollment at Boyce Elementary has declined from 321 students in 2014-15 to an estimated enrollment of 257 students in FY20. Estimates also show that Cooley will have 27 fewer students in FY20. Of the 14 regular education classrooms in the Cooley upper campus, only nine are used on a full-time basis.

Closing the upper campus will save the school division about $146,500 annually in utilities and a reduced custodial contract. Some money will remain in the FY20 school budget to maintain utilities and the school grounds, so there are no issues with frozen pipes or building deterioration.

School Board member Charles “Chip” Schutte asked Bishop if there are any future plans for the building.

“When you leave a building sit empty, it goes down,” Schutte said.

Before making any decisions, Bishop wants to wait a year to see if the student population continues to decline. He said it’s possible the school division could house Career and Technical Education classes in the building.

“I don’t know the answer to that question yet, and I think we’re a year or so away from knowing,” Bishop said.

In attendance Monday night were Superintendent Chuck Bishop, Assistant Superintendent Rick Catlett, School Board Chairwoman Monica Singh-Smith, Vice Chairman Jon Turkel and members Katie Kerr-Hobert, Zara Ryan and Charles “Chip” Schutte.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

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