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Vocational school for Jefferson Co. suggested

March 03, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County should have its own vocational technical school and locate it on the campus of Jefferson High School, according to a committee that is developing a 10-year plan for the school system.

James Rumsey Vocational Technical Center in Berkeley County is available to local students, but members of the committee believe it is too far away.

Members of the committee believe it is important to have a local vocational technical school to help spark interest in education among local students, said Millenium Committee member Teresa McCabe.

The committee is particularly concerned about the county's high school dropout rate, which was close to 30 percent in 1997, McCabe said.

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"This is an initiative the committee feels strongly about for several reasons," said Victor Evans, a consultant who worked on the recommendation.

The recommendation is part $52 million, county-wide school construction plan that is designed to prepare the district for the next 10 years.

Of the $52 million, the committee is recommending $9 million be spent to renovate Jefferson High School and add the vocational technical school.

The committee has already suggested the construction of a new $26 million high school to offset growing student populations in coming years.

The Jefferson County Board of Education will now consider the plan.

Board member Pete Dougherty praised the committee for its work on the report. Preparing a school district for its future building needs is one of the toughest parts of running a school system, Dougherty said.

Under current state law, Jefferson County is prohibited from building a vocational technical school because one is already available in Berkeley County. But school officials are hopeful that local lawmakers will be supportive of legislation that would allow a local school to be built.

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