Date of Graduation
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ronald W. Eck
School consolidation has become commonplace in the West Virginia, with a declining student population as West Virginia has lost population over the last several decades. Consolidated schools offer school districts the opportunity to provide greater offerings in terms of coursework and extracurricular activities, while also allowing a reduction in some operating costs since fewer facilities are maintained and few administrative staff are needed to operate them. Consolidation also has impacts on school transportation, both in terms of time and mode choice, as well as the impact on land use patterns around the consolidated school facility.;This research seeks to help quantify those above mentioned variables for 5 rural school facilities at several different grade levels in different geographic regions of the state. Two high schools (one county, one sub-county), one county middle school, and two combined elementary/middle schools were chosen. Data were obtained from each facility for both the bus travel time and transportation mode choice for typical daily school travel. These data were then compared to state travel guidelines and national averages regarding mode choice. Aerial photography was also obtained for the area around each of the facilities both before and after the construction of the schools. A comparison was then made between housing units in the area before and after the construction of facility to determine if these schools encourage sprawl-style development. These housing numbers were also compared to population trends in the county to see if overall population trends matched the housing unit trends.;The results quantified some of the transportation and land use issues present with consolidated schools. In all cases, the growth in number of housing units either significantly exceeded the population growth or grew significantly in spite of population loss in the counties where the school was located, indicating that these schools may serve as the impetus for some sprawl-style growth. With regards to school travel, 4 of the 5 schools had average travel times that exceeded the state-prescribed travel times for each grade level, with significant percentages of stops over those travel times. In spite of this, higher percentages of students chose busing as their primary mode of school transportation than were present in other studies on school transportation. Study recommendations include giving additional consideration to bus transportation times and costs in school consolidation decisions and facility planning, as well standardizing the tracking process for logging bus travel times.
DiCola, Bradley J., "Determining Transportation and Development Impacts of Consolidated Schools in West Virginia" (2013). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 340.