Martirano says Fayette schools some of the 'worst he's seen'
By Alex Wiederspiel, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. Michael Martirano, State Superintendent of Schools in West Virginia, said the conditions of the Fayette County schools are among the worst he’s ever seen in his time as an educator.
He also said the Fayette County school facilities are the worst he’s seen in the Mountain State.
“The top concern is in Fayette County,” Martirano said during an interview with Hoppy Kercheval on “Talkline With MetroNews” Monday morning. “There are some very deplorable conditions–several elementary schools, a high school, particularly a middle school–that create great safety challenges for our young people. And these are just not places where our students should be educated.”
Martirano disagreed with the decision of the School Building Authority, saying he voted for the amendment to the Fayette County Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.
“We got to do right by kids,” Martirano said. “We’ve got to do better by kids. Adults have to come together to make those decisions that are in the best interest of our kids right now. That’s what I’m most concerned about, which is guiding me. How do we all come together to make those right decisions for our young people who deserve better?
Fayette County was asking for $39 million over a three-year period, and were going to attempt to come up with a local match upwards of $17 million. Martirano said that process was still ongoing when the SBA voted to reject the amendment.
“I don’t necessarily know if anybody has the magic solution to that, but we have to continue to have those conversations,” Martirano said. “There’s got to be a road forward to assist in the educational quality for our young people in Fayette County. There’s got to be. So how do the adults in this situation who were elected and appointed come together to make that happen?”
Martirano, like many others, used the word “deplorable” to describe the conditions of the schools.
“These are some of the worst conditions I have seen,” he said. “So how do we as adults come together to do the job necessary to get beyond the concerns that have been expressed so it’s a win-win for everybody?”
A 2009 study by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission found more than 60 percent of West Virginia high school graduates will continue their education, but only around 25 percent of the state’s population have a post secondary education.
The same study also shows Fayette County is behind all but five West Virginia counties in college participatory rates.
“Come together to provide some temporary solutions and some long-term solutions because what needs to continue to be discussed is our children,” he said. “Our children are our most precious entity within our whole state and our asset. And we have to do everything to protect our children and provide an optimal education experience for them. And it’s got to be done.”