But low-income parents are less likely to stay involved in a consolidated school, Williams said.
For example, they might be able to find a ride to their community school, but can�t make it to the consolidated school in the county seat.
Consolidation supporters point to the drop in split-grade classes, from 220 to 116 in the last five years.
(Split-grade classrooms include students from more than one grade level.)
Also, the state employs 5 percent more librarians, 36 percent more nurses and 21 percent more counselors now than a decade ago � many of those serving elementary students.
Elementary principals have demanded counselors as more young students disrupt classes, report abuse and complain they�re stressed and anxious.
Last year, Kanawha County principals listed an increase in counselors as their top priority, even more important than salary hikes.
Williams applauds administrators for hiring more counselors. But she said those counselors could have traveled between smaller schools, instead of sending the children on long bus rides.
�Who gets to travel, the counselor or the kids? Who is it harder on?� she asked.
To contact staff writers Scott Finn and Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 357-4323.