After three public hearings, where residents had openly voiced their opinions, the Barbour County Board of Education met on Monday to decide the fate of two elementary schools and the students in them.
The closing of both Volga-Century Elementary School and Mount Vernon Elementary School were on the agenda.
Parents said board members knew where they all stood after the public hearings.
"The opinion of the citizens has been made clear at these past meetings, I think that they've heard everything that we had to say and they have been receptive, and I just honestly hope it's been enough," said parent Jason Clay.
Clay is the father of Wesley Clay, who is a 5th grader at Mount Vernon Elementary. Clay said if the board decided to close the schools, he might have considered moving.
"I work in Preston County, and the only thing that has kept me in this county and driving an hour, one way to work everyday has been Mount Vernon Elementary School," explained Clay.
After public comments, and a long discussion by the board, it was time for the vote. The five board members voted unanimously to not close either school.
The public was very visibly relieved and happy.
"I think almost everyone there was holding their breath as the decision was made. A lot of our children have been there for years some of these schools are like a family to them. It's a welcomed decision," Clay said.
Board president Bob Wilkins said the public hearings really made a difference in the decision, and that the citizens' opinions were heard.
"They really felt that the smaller schools were needed because of some options the kids needed and large schools don't work for everybody. Number two, it's a good learning environment, and they'd like us to keep that as long as we could, and we don't want to destroy local communities," said Wilkins.
Wilkins said now it's up to the local communities to work with the board to try to find a way to get out a bad financial situation, which was the reason that it wanted to close the schools.