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SBA OKs its share of Wayne County project

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By Jean Tarbett Hardiman 
The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON -- Wayne County Schools was approved Monday to receive $18 million from the West Virginia School Building Authority for new and renovated facilities, if the county's voters agree to provide a similar amount by approving a bond proposal on May 13.

The SBA funds would make up a portion of $42.2 million the county wants for school projects. Those include construction of a new Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School and a new Crum pre-K through eighth-grade school, as well as a multi-classroom extension and entryway renovation at Wayne High School.

Rounding out the funding needed for the Wayne County school projects will be $4.2 million from the Wayne County Schools Permanent Improvement Fund and $2 million from Quality Zone Academy Bonds.

"I am pleased with the SBA award and humbled, as I realize how many projects were requested by other counties," Superintendent Lynn Hurt said. "We have an opportunity to build two new schools and a renovation with the passage of the bond."

If the bond measure is passed, the interest rate for the bond sale could be less than 6.5 percent, but it would not exceed that amount.

To pay off the bond, Wayne County property owners would be levied a separate tax through 2029. For the owner of a home worth $150,000 and personal property worth $30,000, the estimated annual tax would be about $115, according to the Wayne County Schools website.

Joann Hurley, president of the Wayne County Board of Education, said the SBA's passage of a state share in the project is a blessing and an opportunity.

"I hope our voters will feel the same way and pass the bond so we can move forward ...."

Wayne County's last bond proposal in December 2012 failed. It was for more than $30 million and included a $20 million match from the SBA for the Crum and C-K schools, along with turf for the football fields and auxiliary gyms at schools.

Hurt was promoted to her position about a month after that bond failed, and this year has focused on formulating a more basic, needs-only plan to move forward.

The $18 million bond has been communicated throughout the county through nearly a dozen community meetings, bond information pamphlets that have been available at schools and senior centers, and complete bond proposal details online at wayneschoolswv.org.

Charles Shumaker is co-chairman of the community grassroots committee Wayne Countians for Education (www.wcfe.org), which has been working to share accurate information about the bond and promote its importance.

"It's good news for our efforts because we knew this would have to be the first step," Shumaker said. "Technically, we're halfway there. ... The state has again taken action and proven they're willing to invest in Wayne County. Now it's Wayne County voters' turn to invest in themselves and vote for this bond."

Good facilities are key to successful schools, and this is a starting point, he said.

"We have come together as a community both in C-K, in Crum and other parts of the county to make sure everybody understands this is the foundation for the future of Wayne County," Shumaker said. "We have to start somewhere.

"Schools tie the communities together. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance we've gotten twice. It's been done with great responsibility and vision for the future, and we hope people understand that and come out on May 13 and vote yes."

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The SBA on Monday also approved major building projects in Ohio, Monongalia, Mingo and Gilmer counties, and smaller projects in Brooke and Doddridge counties.