McDowell County Schools ...

WELCH — Getting approval to apply for the money needed to consolidate three elementary schools and construct a new facility to replace them is on the agenda of an upcoming McDowell County Board of Education meeting.

The McDowell County Board of Education’s Jan. 19 meeting has an agenda item seeking approval to submit a consolidation plan to the state School Building Authority (SBA) for funding for a new school consolidating Welch Elementary, Fall River Elementary, and Kimball Elementary Schools.

The cost of building a new school had not been determined yet, but it could be approximately $18 million, according to David Williams, president of the McDowell County Board of Education.

“This is preliminary,” Williams said of the possible price and application to the SB. “They probably wouldn’t fund it this time. Many times, they turn you down the first time. We’re just looking at it.”

Superintendent Carolyn Falin said the SBA item on the Jan. 19 board of education agenda is just to seek approval to submit an application to the SBA. The process has not reached the point where the school board would schedule public hearings about closing and consolidating the three schools.

The school system is now working with an architect and looking at factors such as enrollment numbers and how large a new school would need to be, she said.

Closing the schools and replacing them with a new school is part of the school system’s comprehensive education facilities plan, which outlines changes and improvements to local schools during a 10-year period, Falin said. 

All three of the schools have considerable age. Both Welch Elementary and Kimball Elementary are 67 years old, Falin said. Fall River Elementary is about 43 years old.

Williams said Welch Elementary and Kimball Elementary are also on a floodplain.

The Jan. 19 board of education meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Center at 275 Virginia Avenue in Welch. Mandatory mask requirements and social distancing will be observed. The public can attend the meeting virtually via live audio feed by using the link

The link can be reached by going to the McDowell County Schools website, clicking on Administration, then School Board and 2020-2021Board Meeting Schedule.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

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