Opening in 2006, Lincoln County High School is the only high school in the county following rural consolidation. The double AA-sized school is the result of an effort to combine four smaller high schools given population declines that mirror declining tax revenue. Construction of the school began in 2004 and the school opened two years later. The closing of local high schools achieved greater economic efficiency but also eliminated important community institutions and led to divisions between residents of the community.
The construction of Lincoln County High School started in 2004 and was completed in 2006. Several of the former high schools that were closed in anticipation of this consolidated school now serve as middle schools. Guyan Valley, Hamlin, Duval, and Harts Creek High School were closes and owing to the proximity and rivalries of the latter two, many in the county remain divided about the propriety of rural consolidation.
Debates about consolidating the county's high schools dates back to the now-infamous Recht Decision in 1982 that overhauled the funding of state schools and curriculum standards. While the county soon consolidated many elementary schools and middle schools in the decades that followed the Recht decision, the four local high schools continued to operate. However, test scores became so dismal that the state decided to step in and take drastic measures, overhauling the entire county school board and leading to consolidation and the creation of Lincoln County High School.
The school’s interior is made up of all the colors of the four middle schools and the motto of the school is “Together as One.” In the first months of operation, fights and arguments were commonplace but in the years that followed a unified spirit has emerged that reflects the identity of many West Virginians who identify with a county more than a city.
Reynolds, David R. 1999. There Goes the Neighborhood: Rural School Consolidation at the Grass Roots in Early Twentieth-Century Iowa. Iowa: University of Iowa Press.
Triplett, Ralph D. and Triplett, Boone. 2013. Images of America: Lincoln County. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing.
Lincoln County Board of Education. Lincoln County Schools. http://boe.linc.k12.wv.us (accessed December 11, 2014).
Harris, Amy Julia. 2012. 1982 Recht Decision: State still rumbles from aftershocks of reform ruling. Charleston Gazette. http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201205120049 (accessed December 10, 2014).
The West Virginia Encyclopedia online, s.v. “Recht Decision,” http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/19 (accessed December 10, 2014).
West Virginia Research Legislature Auditor. Performance Evaluation and Research
Division. 2011. An Examination Of The Effects On Educational Outcomes From High School Consolidation: Lincoln County’s Experience. PE 10-21-488.
http://www.legis.state.wv.us/joint/perd/perdrep/DOE_1_2011.pdf (accessed December 10, 2014).
Brenda Powell (Executive Secretary Lincoln County Board of Education), interview by Heather Edwards, December 5, 2015, transcript.