SBA adds Fayette plan back to Nov. 9 agenda

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SBA adds Fayette plan back to Nov. 9 agenda
By Alex Wiederspiel, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state School Building Authority placed reconsideration of the Fayette County CEFP (Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan) Amendment back on its agenda for the authority’s Nov. 9 meeting.

Mountain State Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of Fayette County against the School Building Authority earlier this month.

The lawsuit claimed, “…that the SBA violated their legal duty of providing notice of the purpose of the meeting, and because the decision to disapprove the CEFP Amendment was made outside the context of a duly noticed meeting, the disapproval of said Amendment is void. The lawsuit seeks emergency relief and asks the Court to temporarily enjoin the SBA from disapproving the Fayette County CEFP Amendment without first issuing notice that the SBA will consider the Amendment on or before the next SBA meeting.”

The SBA rejected the amendment to the Fayette County CEFP in September following a 6-3 vote by the state Board of Education to adopt the amendment.

The prime controversy arose over whether or not the SBA followed proper procedure in their decision to reject the amendment when they did.

In response to that vote, state Board of Education President Mike Green sent a letter to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin criticizing the SBA’s decision at the September meeting–stating the SBA superseded the West Virginia Board of Education’s authority with that vote.

The conditions of the school facilities in Fayette County has been a controversial topic in the recent weeks and months. Those conditions have been called “deplorable” by many–including Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Kessler.

Similar statements have been made by Fayette County Prosecutor Larry Harrah and state Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. Martirano said the facilities in Fayette County were some of the “worst he’d seen” as an educator.

Harrah released the following statement Thursday:

“The Fayette County Commission is extremely pleased with the action of the School Building Authority of West Virginia to reconsider the CEFP Amendment that was approved by the West Virginia Board of Education on September 8, 2015. Addressing the deplorable conditions that exist within the school system of Fayette County must remain a priority so that all children in Fayette County receive an education that is thorough and efficient within a safe environment.”

The amendment requests $39 million from the SBA over a three year period while Fayette County attempts to come up with around $17 million in local matching funding in that span of time.

Fayette County voters rejected a bond issue for the third time since 2001 during a vote this summer.

If approved, the amendment would close four high schools–Fayetteville, Oak Hill, Midland trail, and Meadow Bridge–and two other schools. Oak Hill High School would become the new site for Collins Middle School. The plan calls for a consolidated high school in the Oak Hill area.

That high school consolidation plan has drawn ire from the Meadow Bridge community–citing travel times of 83 minutes each way for their high school students.