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Webster County Families Hope To Save Diana Elementary

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At one point, there were 85 schools in Webster County, but now there are only six. And that number may soon drop to five, if a proposal to close Diana Elementary School passes at the end of the year. Parents in the Diana area said it's a good school and needs to stay open.

"Diana is a wonderful school, it's a little school, and the little schools are the best schools when it comes to teaching your children, my kids learned to read here, and I think it was because it's a small school," said Tammy Stewart, whose son attended the school as he grew up.

And for area residents, it's not just a school, but it's also the center of their community, a place where they can gather and meet, such as when Superstorm Sandy came through Webster County last month.

"This is our only meeting spot if there is an emergency. Just for instance, the Red Cross, this is where they set up for the families that couldn't take a shower, didn't have electricity, or couldn't have hot meals," said Diana parent Christina Westfall.

If the school closes its doors for good, students from Diana would be sent to Webster Springs or Hacker Valley Elementary Schools, and the plan would also move all seventh and eighth graders to Webster County High School. Despite the consolidation, Superintendent Dr. Martha Dean said the move will help improve the education for all the county's students including opportunities in technical classes.

"We haven't been able to provide that because we've been spending all of our resources on just providing a basic education. So with the consolidation, if you will, then I think the educational program would vastly improve," said Dean.

Concerned residents will have a chance to voice their feelings on the plan at one of five meetings between December 17 and 20. The final school board vote will take place between Christmas and New Year's Day.