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From Cody Corliss

By Staff | Mar 10, 2010

I have read where members of the Wetzel County Board of Education are considering closing Paden City High School.Closing Paden City High would be a huge mistake-not only for the students served in the area, but also for the entire county.

ClosingPaden City High School may actually end up costing the board and our county more than it ever saves.

While I’m sure the facilities review panel considered a number of factors in making their recommendations, I doubt that they looked at the greater economics of the closure.Yes, closing the school might initially save the board a small amount of money.

However, closing the school would actually likely hurt the economy of the entire county much, much more.The initialcost savings would be off-set by the ultimate loss of area residents, a loss in taxes collected, significantly decreased home values, and a significant decrease in student performance.We might save a bit of money at first, but the greater losses will keep haunting our county year after year.

This information comes from a Cornell University study on rural school consolidation. It found, quite simply,thatnearly everyone in an entire county loses whenrural community schools consolidate.On almost every indicator of economic and social well-being, rural communities with their own schools fare significantly better than rural communities that no longer have their school. Areas with a school are considerably more likely to be economically healthy than those without.On the other hand,a loss of the school is linked to significantly lower housing values, more households receiving public assistance, increased child poverty rates, and fewer people employed withinthe community at large.

As Cornell Professor Thomas Lyson noted, “When a school goes away in a rural community, it’s the death knell.”

We all must stand up for our schools and communities.I sincerely hope members of our school board don’t hammer a nail in the coffin of this county, all in the vain hope of saving a couple dimes.


Cody Corliss

New Martinsville