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Public hearing set in Jefferson on schools plan

August 14, 2000

Public hearing set in Jefferson on schools plan



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County residents will get a chance tonight to offer their input on a 10-year comprehensive schools plan that calls for close to $60 million in new schools and renovations to existing schools in the county.

The hearing is 7:30 p.m. in the board office at Charles Town.

The plan offers an extensive look at the conditions of local schools, and the recommended funding for some of the projects has not yet been budgeted by the Jefferson County Board of Education, board of education member Peter Morgens said Monday.

Morgens said he would like to see the board of education get on a more regular schedule of asking voters for permission to float bond issues to pay for school needs, noting that's his opinion and not the official school board view.

"Part of us (on the board) would like to cover everything in one fell swoop," Morgens said, referring to the 10-year plan.

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The board is currently following some of the recommendations of the plan, including construction of a second high school in the county.

On Sept. 23, county voters will be asked to approve a $39 million bond issue, most of which will be used to construct a new $32 million high school.

About $1.2 million from the bond issue would be used to help pay for a new $8.6 million ninth grade center beside Jefferson High School and another $6 million from the bond would go toward renovating Jefferson High School, another recommendation of the 10-year plan.

The 10-year plan was released about a year ago by the Millennium Committee, a panel of 30 parents, educators, business leaders and residents.

Every year, the board of education is required to hold a public hearing on the plan to determine if there is anything in the proposal county residents would like to comment on or see changed, Morgens said.

Among the plan's recommendations are spending about $14 million for needed renovations and expansions to the three junior high schools in the county. Another $9 million should be spent for renovations and repairs to the county's nine elementary schools, the plan said.

One project in the plan that is not currently being explored by the board is construction of a new vocational school in the county, said Board President Larry Togans.

To build its own vocational school, county school officials would have to get permission from the state Legislature. The Legislature turned down that request.

There has been concern among officials at the James Rumsey Technical Institute near Hedgesville that a vocational school in Jefferson County might result in duplication of their programs, Togans said.

Jefferson school officials wanted their own vocational school because they believed it would be more convenient for their students and spark interest in vocational careers.

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