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SBA leader addresses parents in Fayette County in search for new facilities plan

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SBA leader addresses parents in Fayette County in search for new facilities plan
By Alex Wiederspiel, WV MetroNews

Fayetteville, W.Va. — Approximately 150 to 200 residents of Fayette County heard a presentation from School Building Authority Executive Director David Sneed Thursday night.

Despite the at times acrimonious issues between the School Building Authority, Fayette County parents, and the State Board of Education during last year’s attempt to pass a Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan, the SBA and Superintendent Terry George are collaborating to find the right solution to Fayette County’s school facility woes.

“We haven’t addressed the concerns that the Authority had, and there were probably fifteen or twenty of those,” David said. “If we don’t address those we’re going to end up exactly the same place where we ended up last year. Our Authority is expecting–their staff–to make sure those are addressed.”

Despite strong support from those in the plateau region of Fayette County, the CEFP presented to the SBA last December was mired by questions about long travel times for students from Meadow Bridge High School and the overall price tag, set at 39 million dollars over a three year span. Despite those concerns, Sneed said he understands why parents and residents in Fayette County are so anxious to see the improvements come to fruition.

“I think we’ve reached the end,” Sneed said. “We’ve reached critical mass as I said in the presentation because if we don’t do something now–some of these buildings will have to go offline because they are just not habitable.”

Limited matching local funding was another concern. Though George believed Fayette County would be able to contribute some matching funds, the county electorate voted against a School Bond Issue last June for the third time in fifteen years. Last year’s plan, which George helped assemble just after he became Superintendent, was a response to another failed bond issue.

“We’re going to assume that there is going to be limited local financial support for any plan that we come up with,” Sneed said. “And if that means that the county doesn’t want to pass a bond then that’s going to be up to them.”

Despite the protests last year from Meadow Bridge parents and students, Sneed did not rule out closing out Meadow Bridge High School.

“All schools are on the table,” he said. “All options are on the table. Certainly. We’re going to have to look at everything.”

Three representatives from each school in the county will now form member committees to help determine what their schools need. The deadline for Fayette County to jump the first hurdle: October 1st.

“We are in a time crunch here,” Sneed said. “Not to say that time is the most important thing. Quality is going to be the most important thing, but we’re going to need to be able to accomplish a lot and not have a lot of extra meetings and sidebar issues because we don’t have time for those kinds of things.”

Sneed said the SBA and the county will need to find innovative ways to prioritize and fund much-needed facilities improvements in the county because the overall price tag to make improvements will be very high.

“No matter how we slice this, this is probably going to be at least 100 to 150 million dollars,” he said.

Sneed added that the final number could go up, and that the improvements could potentially take more than a decade to complete.

No specifics are yet available.