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Jefferson to vote on another bond proposal

October 02, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

Jefferson to vote on another bond proposal



CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A little more than a week after voters rejected a $39 million school construction bond, the Jefferson County Board of Education is considering a $25 million bond referendum and a $20 million funding request from the state.

Superintendent of Schools David W. Markoe said another bond request could be put before the voters by next May.

At least one board member was hesitant about Markoe's proposal.

"I don't think the public is ready for another bond," said board member Paul Manzuk.

Manzuk instead proposed asking the School Building Authority for $7.2 million, $6 million of which would be used to pay for a renovation of Jefferson High School and the rest to be used to finish a middle school project near the high school.

During a special election Sept. 23, about 66 percent of the voters rejected the proposed $39 million school construction bond that would have been used to build a second high school in the county, renovate Jefferson High School and make other school improvements.

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The Board of Education requested voter approval for the bond because the state School Building Authority, which the board hoped would fund part of the school construction plan, said the county would have to pitch in its own money before requesting any from the authority.

Despite the failure of the construction bond, the Board of Education could file a written request to the authority by Friday to ask for $20 million from the authority, $16 million more than it initially planned to request.

Although the School Board seems to be going against the scenario that the authority laid out for it, Markoe said the options are limited.

"We're limping along," Markoe said after a special School Board meeting Monday night in which he presented his plan.

"I don't know if this is a good request or not," he said.

Board members did not take any action on Markoe's plan. They may vote on the proposal during their regular meeting today at 7:30 p.m. at the School Board office.

Board member Peter Morgens said he liked Markoe's plan, but believed the $20 million funding request from the School Building Authority "may be a little much."

Clacy Williams, executive director of the authority, recently told the board his agency only has about $30 million a year to spread among school construction projects in the state's 55 counties.

Morgens, however, said he supports going to voters again to ask their approval for a bond issue.

The proposed $25 million construction bond would include $18 million for a second high school, $4 million for renovations to Jefferson High School, and $3 million for improvements to other schools in the county.

The $20 million request to the School Building Authority would include $4 million for the Jefferson High renovation and $16 million for a new high school, Markoe said.

The School Board has been planning for a second high school because of concern about the population growth the county could face. In addition to needing improvements, Jefferson High School is about 100 students over capacity.

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