The Letcher County Board of Education has voted to close Beckham Bates Elementary School at Colson, to turn Martha Jane Potter Elementary School at Kona into a kindergarten through Grade 5 facility only, and to change Fleming-Neon Elementary School into a middle school for students in grades 6 through 8.
The changes were approved Monday night at the board’s December meeting and will take effect at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. Spared by any changes are Arlie Boggs Elementary School at Eolia and Cowan Elementary School, which will remain kindergarten through Grade 8 facilities.
The closing of Beckham Bates was approved by a vote of 3-2, with board members Terry Cornett of Linefork and Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. of Neon voting no. Yes votes were cast by Board Chairman William Smith of Whitesburg and members Mike Harris of Cowan and John Spicer of Seco. Cornett cast the only no vote on the changes at Martha Jane Potter and Fleming-Neon.
The meeting drew a crowd of about 200, including the staffs of the Beckham Bates and Arlie Boggs schools, and had to be moved to the West Whitesburg Elementary School cafeteria for space purposes. Members of the Eolia community had been afraid the changes, which are a result of the board’s recently-completed reconfiguration study, would affect their school as well.