“It’s sad and it would be really nice if it stayed open 'cause it’s like a second home to me,” student Allison Hopkins said.
“The best part of the school is having all my friends here,” said rising sixth-grader Chris Hopkins.
Thursday night the school board voted to close Clifton Elementary School. Their reasoning? Declining enrollment numbers and a renovation project that would cost more than opening a new school.
In a statement school board Chair Kathy Smith said:
“After weighing all the issues related to closing versus renovating Clifton Elementary, ultimately the Board’s decision was to use its limited capital resources in the most efficient way.”
But it’s a renovation many of the parents said they don’t want and never asked for.
“I don’t think that they were able to make a decision based on all the facts,” said Clifton PTA President Patti Hopkins. “I think some of them had their minds made up from the start.”
In a mostly rural section of southern Fairfax County, many parents said the school with about 370 students serves as the glue holding the community together.
“We rarely saw our neighbors because our houses are so spread out,” said concerned parent Ina Patton. “As soon as we had our first-grader at Clifton we were so involved with the town, we came to town events more often, and it really enriched our experience as a resident.”
And many said the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal is not knowing what’s going to happen next. They’ve been told the school could be closed as early as the end of next school year, but it could also be years down the line. Many parents said now it’s their children’s futures in limbo.
“All of Clifton’s students go to Robinson High School,” Hopkins said. “If they split the kids up into four different schools, chances are they will not all go to Robinson, so it’s a permanent division of this school's community.”