Four small schools in western Loudoun County face the threat of closure this year to help close a budget gap. The schools have ardent supporters who say that for generations the schools have been the center of their country villages. But in the fast-growing east, there is pressure to build new schools to accommodate all the children moving into new homes, and some school board members say it doesn’t make sense to continue maintaining old buildings with tiny enrollments.

On April 21, both sides can make their case; the Loudoun County Public Schools board of education voted 6 to 3 in a work session to hold a public hearing that night.

Closing Lincoln, Hamilton, Hillsboro and Aldie elementary schools could save the system an estimated $2 million a year in operating costs, according to the board’s chairman Eric Hornberger.

Supporters of the schools have been working on ways to save them; some at Hillsboro have a proposal to turn it into a charter school (as Middleburg Elementary was conditionally approved to do) and parents and community members at Aldie recently pitched an expansion of their school.

Board member Jill Turgeon, who supports the community schools, said she isn’t convinced that students could be accommodated at nearby schools next fall if their home schools were closed.