February 14, 2013
Teachers at Columbia and Cunningham Elementary Schools now know their doors will be closing for good after the Fluvanana County School Board's vote Wednesday night. Teachers, Parents and PTA members are heartbroken.
Teachers at Cunningham Elementary School have never taken a day for granted. They love their small school and everything that comes with it.
"that's what this place I known for, it's family, it's family and when we leave here, we'll still be family," said Gary Osteen, PTA President of Cunningham Elementary who also has a child attending the school.
The Fluvanna County School Board has been battling a huge budget deficit and voted Wednesday night to close the two elementary schools to save money. The 300 students combined will attend Central Elementary School next year.
"People are sad and it's not just here in the school it's the community," Osteen says. "This place has been here for a long, long time and people go by here everyday. You see the love in these little kids' eyes. It just can't be replaced."
Teachers say they tried their best to go through Thursday's school day like nothing was wrong but they say Cunningham gives their students something very special that they won't get at Central.
""These kids know you by name, you can smack their hand in the hall and say 'Hey, you have a great day!' And that's just irreplaceable. There's something to be said about small schools and small environments. Little people need little schools," said Osteen.
Teachers say it's a school that caters to the community. Students are their neighbors, everyone knows everyone by name, they see students at church every Sunday. Teachers were not able to speak on camera on Thursday but several told me how connected and community-oriented Cunningham is and that is why it is a sad decision.
Twenty staff positions will be cut when the schools close officially in July.