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'Schools for the Deaf and Blind' May Leave Hampshire County

The schools have been a fixture in Hampshire County, W.Va., for nearly 150 years.

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, W.Va.Recent talks about renovations for the West Virginia Deaf and Blind Schools, led to talks about possibly relocating the schools all together. Many locals say they don't like the idea.

The Superintendent for West Virginia Schools of the Deaf and Blind recently submitted a 10 year school renovation plan to the state board of education, and was asked to look at alternative locations to build new schools when the costs were a little high. 

The idea of losing the deaf and blind schools in Romney has many in the community upset.

"I would be devastated. I don't think there is a better location for it, regardless of what they think needs to be enhanced or changed," said Michael Coleman, a Hampshire County resident.

"I just do not think that the students would be better served in another location, I don't think you can evaluate and determine it,” said Stephen Davis, a Hampshire County resident.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Boyer said nothing is definite, however she understands the state's point of view, saying it's just preliminary research and the state is doing what's best for the students and parents of the schools.

"What would it cost in other parts of the state because the salary scales are different," said Dr. Lynn Boyer, superintendent of the West Virginia Deaf and Blind Schools. "We also looked what are the transportation costs, what are our costs here if we take children home to their residences and what would to cost us if we were located in another part of the state."

The schools have been a fixture in Hampshire County for nearly 150 years. Coleman says the students and community have developed a special bond over the years. 

"The students who go to the school here, have the availability to be integrated into our local school system, to be partially mainstream,” said Coleman. "They also participate in the athletic program, that Hampshire County offers side by side with our public school  students."

"It's a tradition who has a business in town and who grew up in Romney, and her comment was I felt that it was a honor that I grew up in a town, where the schools are," said Boyer.

Davis says if the school leaves, Hampshire County will take an economic hit.

"This school is the largest employer in Romney so with that in mind, the economic input would be devastated," said Davis

There will be a public meeting this Wednesday evening at the Hampshire County Board of Education office where the West Virginia Board of Education will seek public input on the issue.

Davis says the fate of the school will be decided in a January 2014 meeting with the West Virginia Board of Education. 

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