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Jefferson schools searching for land

September 05, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said he wants to have a closed-door meeting with the Jefferson County Board of Education to talk about acquiring land for more schools in the county and a reorganization of the central office.

The board of education is close to reaching an agreement for land for a second high school.

The developers of the 3,300-home Huntfield development south of Charles Town have offered the school system about 60 acres for a second high school.

Board members are in the process of working out the language in the agreement with Greenvest L.C., the Vienna, Va., firm that is building Huntfield.

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But Huntfield's land offer will cover only part of the school system's land needs, school officials say.

The fact that the district has grown by 200 students over last year shows that growth "is really putting the pinch on us," Nichols said Wednesday.

Nichols said he wants to find land in the county to build another elementary school and a middle school. Between 16 and 20 acres is generally needed for an elementary school and a middle school usually requires about 65 acres, Nichols said.

Nichols said the discussion about possible sites needs to be conducted in a closed-door session to prevent land prices from becoming inflated.

Student population growth has been a concern among school officials in the Eastern Panhandle. In Jefferson County, school officials have worried about the heavy residential growth being experienced in nearby Loudoun County, Va., spilling over into the county.

A comprehensive facilities plan completed recently for Berkeley County Schools projects the school system will grow by 3,500 students by the year 2010, and that by 2015, Berkeley County will surpass Kanawha County as the largest school system in the state.

Nichols, who took over as schools superintendent July 1, said he will need to meet with board members between three and five hours in executive session to talk about land acquisition and central office reorganization.

"We're talking about planning for the next 10 years," said Nichols.

Board member Cheryl Huff agreed that searching for more land for new schools is something that needs to be done now.

"We haven't had that," Huff said.

Nichols said he is looking at a central office reorganization to make best use of the resources there. There will be no job losses as a result, he said.

"It's not a massive overhaul," Nichols said.

No date for the meeting has been set, Huff said.

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