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Jefferson Co. moves to build 2nd high school

August 10, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Board of Education began moving ahead Tuesday night on construction of a second high school in the county.

The board asked Superintendent David W. Markoe to begin developing cost estimates for a new school after two local lawmakers told the board they believe the time is right to build.

Earlier in the year, the board considered expanding Jefferson High School to handle expected increases in student population. But there was concern in the community that the project would make Jefferson High too big.

State Del. John Doyle said the debate galvanized support for a second high school.

"I'm convinced the votes are there," Doyle, D-Jefferson, told board members.

School officials projected in January that up to 8,000 more students will enter the system by 2010 with an average annual increase of about 75 students.

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There was discussion among board members and the lawmakers about the size of the bond issue. Some wondered whether the board should try for a $52 million bond issue to cover all the building recommendations put forth by a Millennium Committee, a panel of 30 parents, educators, business leaders and residents who put together a 10-year comprehensive education facilities plan for the county.

Doyle, who attended the meeting with Del. Dale Manuel, D-Jefferson, said he is worried that if the bond issue request hits $30 million, it could hurt its chance of passage.

Board of Education member Pete Dougherty estimates the bond would be $20 million to $30 million. A figure in that range would pay for a new high school and include money for needed renovations to the existing high school, according to Dougherty.

Markoe said he could probably develop cost estimates within three weeks.

Doyle said he thinks a bond issue referendum should be held this fall, but board members said it could be early next year before a vote is held.

"The truth of the matter is we have to do something," said Dougherty.

Earlier this year, Dougherty warned that growth in Maryland and Virginia is heading toward Jefferson County and planning for a new high school needs to begin immediately.

The new high school would accommodate about 1,200 students. Jefferson High currently has about 1,600 students.

Board member Paul Manzuk said he is concerned how the board will pay for the additional staff to run the school.

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