Editor: Last week’s article on small school closures records the latest effort going back at least 20 years to close the historic small schools in Loudoun. I will leave it to others to make the case academically and financially why this still is a bad idea, and instead focus on the impact this action, if achieved, would do to our historic villages and towns.
Each time this closure issue comes up it gets support from those School Board members with the single mind set of saving some operating cost money not with the broader community context. If they served on the board of Oatlands they might say “it’s the carriage house and gift shop that make the money while maintenance of the manor house is a loser so if we tear down the manor house we can cut the losses.” Or if they were on the board of George Marshall Center they might argue “why have all these gardens and lawns when we could sell them off for a mixed use strip mall on Market Street and make a lot of money.”
These small schools are often the focal point of the community living in our historic villages. The families with children in these schools knit the community together and share the special life style while others use the schools for civic meetings and events. The schools are assets which attract new generations to come to live in the village and act as stewards of the history of these places.
If the schools are closed the villages will lose a bit of their character. And it is the village character which attracts tourists and visitors which contribute to our rural economy. Our wineries, breweries, event centers, and B&B’s all gain from their proximity to our historic villages as they create an exciting tourist experience.
In the bigger picture, Loudoun stands at a crossroads with all this enormous pressure for growth creating a perceived need for tax income and cost savings. While at the same time these very demands are undermining the environment and heritage assets which make the county a unique and desirable place to live for all of us. There will not be one great moment of change. It will be the slow destruction of our special assets one at a time until we suddenly realize we have lost it all. It’s about what appears to be a small thing such as whether or not we protect our small historic schools for this and future generations.
Alfred P. Van Huyck, Round Hill