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Jefferson County seeks second high school

April 04, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Jefferson County Schools officials plan to go after state funds to build a second high school in the county.

School officials said they plan to apply for $15 million from a new pool of state economic development money that is expected to total about $200 million.

The $200 million is expected to be generated through a new tax revenue investment program.

At least two projects being considered for some of the money include a downtown revitalization proposal for Wheeling, W.Va., and a minor league baseball project in Charleston, local lawmakers said.

But during the recent session of the Legislature, it was stressed that some of the money could go to school systems, according to Del. Dale Manuel, D-Jefferson.

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The Jefferson County Board of Education has instructed Superintendent of Schools Jud Romine to prepare a request for $15 million to help build a second high school, Board of Education President Larry Togans said.

Board members asked Romine to have the proposal ready for them to review by April 16, Togans said. The process of applying for the money could occur quickly, and the board of education could hold a special meeting if it needs to review the funding request sooner than April 16, Togans and other board members said.

"We don't want to lose a special opportunity here," Togans said Tuesday.

Jefferson High School's student population has exceeded the school's capacity and school officials have been concerned about a surge in the county's student population in coming years. The School Board has had trouble getting money from the School Building Authority for a second high school.

In September 2000, county voters turned down a proposed $39 million bond issue that would have been used to build another high school.

Building a new high school would cost about $28 million, school officials said.

If School Board members get money from the $200 million pool of state money, they would request further funding from the School Building Authority in the fall, board members said.

If that didn't result in enough money, board members probably would ask voters in the fall of next year to approve a bond issue to make up the difference, board member Pete Dougherty said.

It was unclear whether Berkeley County Schools officials would seek any of the money.

It's possible other administrators have talked about applying for the money, but he had not heard of any efforts to apply, said Frank Aliveto, deputy superintendent of Berkeley County Schools.

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