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Berkeley County pushes school building program

November 20, 1996

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Education officials unveiled drawings of Berkeley County's next house of learning Tuesday, an intermediate school for grades 3-5.

Ground already has been broken for the school in the county's north end.

The unveiling came one day after the Board of Education opened bids for a $15 million replacement for Musselman High School to serve 1,200 students in the equally fast-growing south end of Berkeley County.

The new intermediate school, being built on 10 acres donated by the DuPont company on U.S. 11 near the intersection with W.Va. 901, will open in September of 1998 for 650 students. It has room to expand to 800 students, said Manny Arvon, an assistant superintendent.

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Money for both projects plus two others already completed come from a $16 million bond issue that voters approved in 1995.

The plans were unveiled at a ceremony Tuesday at the DuPont plant in Falling Waters. The new school, which will cost $4.5 million, will be called Potomack Intermediate School after an 18th century spelling of the Potomac River.

The new school is the result of a concerted community effort that evaluated the school system, determined where it was and where it should be at the turn of the century, said School Superintendent James Bennett.

Rodney P. Woods, principal at Valley View Elementary School, will be principal at Potomack. He said an agreement with Shepherd College means the school will become a training ground for student teachers from the college.

It also will be open to students and the community for 12 months, Woods said.

Arvon said the three feeder schools for Potomack will be Hedgesville, Marlowe and Bedington elementary schools.

Those schools will house students in kindergarten through second grade to accommodate the new all-day kindergarten classes that begin in September of 1998.

The state is mandating all-day kindergarten, but has given Berkeley County a two-year extension because of the rapid population growth and its shortage of classrooms, Arvon said. The county's school population grows by about 300 students a year. It has about 12,000 students, he said.

"All-day kindergarten will double our kindergarten classes," he said.

The 1995 bond program also paid for a 15-classroom addition to Hedgesville Middle School and an eight-room addition to Hedgesville High School. Both projects are complete, he said.

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