FEMA green-lights portable classroom installation at 2 Kanawha schools

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FEMA green-lights portable classroom installation at 2 Kanawha schools
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

CLENDENIN, W.Va. — After a longer wait than expected, FEMA approved the installation of portable classrooms for two flood-damaged schools in Kanawha County Wednesday.

The Kanawha County Board of Education is expected to officially approve the plan at its Thursday evening meeting. The portables will accommodate Herbert Hoover High at Elkview Middle School and Clendenin Elementary students at Bridge Elementary until new schools are built.

One change made is that portables at Elkview Middle won’t be on the football field, but in the parking lot instead.

“I think there was some concern with the football field being in a flood zone. As far as exactly where they’ll be on the parking lot I’m not sure,” said Kanawha BOE member Ric Cavender.

Cavender said that it was a long process to get the plan approved but FEMA, but the board had no choice but to play by their rules.

“If we’re planning on using their funding to execute this project, we have to make sure we’re following their guidelines,” he explained. “Part of their guidelines throughout this process was that we had to explore a lot of different options for placement of the portables. Our goal and intention was always to make sure they would go where we said they were going to go to make sure students stay together.”

Herbert Hoover Principal Mike Kelley wasn’t concerned about the change in location, as long as his students would all be in the same spot.

“The main thing that was really important to our kids and our parents was that we keep our kids together here in our community,” said Kelley. “I think it’s going to be fine. The initial plan was for it to be on the football field but there was some additional costs with raising the portables up out of the flood plain.”

Kelley said Hoover students would still use the Elkview Middle cafeteria and gymnasium, and that he saw a silver lining in the very unusual, inconvenient year.

“I really feel like this is good preparation for college, because it’s very similar to a college schedule where you go to classes every other day (for about four hours) as opposed to seven or eight,” he said. “You have to take more responsibility for your own learning by studying and doing work outside of the classroom.”

The Kanawha BOE was expected to approve a plan for the portables at a meeting last month, but it was put on hold indefinitely. The exact cost and number of portables at each school was not announced Wednesday.

The board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday evening.