SBA: Fayette building needs too great; kids' education suffering

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SBA: Fayette building needs too great; kids' education suffering
By Ryan Quinn, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

OAK HILL — West Virginia School Building Authority officials have told Fayette County Capital Planning Committee members that the SBA can’t afford to fix all the county’s school buildings, that students, staff and resources are spread thin among facilities and that kids’ education is suffering because of it.

“Deferred maintenance and upkeep has really caused a problem,” SBA Executive Director David Sneed said earlier this month during the committee’s first meeting. “Like I said, we’ve reached critical mass on your buildings. You’re at the point where some of your schools — something’s gonna fall off, something’s gonna blow up.”

But Sneed said his job wasn’t to tell committee members, who are tasked with developing a facilities improvement plan that the SBA’s board will fund, which buildings should be closed or not. He did suggest they create criteria on things like repair costs to determine when a building should be shuttered, along with a suggestion for minimum and maximum school enrollment sizes.

Bill White, a state Board of Education member who’s also on the SBA’s board and didn’t support Fayette’s last consolidation plan, which most of his fellow state school board members backed, told the committee the process isn’t about closing schools.

“This process is about looking at what your needs are, and talking to people in your community about what you need to get to state of the art for what you want to teach your kids,” White said. “So just take that whole idea of closing schools at this point out of your mind.”

Committee member Carolyn Arritt, a former Meadow Bridge teacher who opposes closing the low-enrollment Meadow Bridge High, said she’s still hopeful that whatever new plan the committee forms will preserve her school, unlike previous Fayette consolidation plans.

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