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Jefferson schools seek $17.5 million from SBA

September 25, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Board of Education members decided Tuesday to request $17.5 million from the state School Building Authority to help fund construction of a second high school in the county and renovate Jefferson High School.

Building a second high school and renovating Jefferson High School is expected to cost about $37.5 million, school board members said.

Board members hope to obtain the rest of the money from the state Economic Development Grant Committee, impact fees and county residents, if necessary.

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The board of education has requested a total of $15 million from the Economic Development Grant Committee, which has $200 million in grant money to distribute across the state.

Board members said they hope they will get at least $10 million from the Economic Development Grant Committee.

The more money that can be obtained from the Economic Development Grant Committee and impact fees, the less board members would have to rely on from voters in terms of a tax increase, board members said during a special meeting at the central office.

It is possible the board may not have to go to voters for a tax increase if enough money can be raised through the Economic Development Grant Committee and impact fees, board member Delores Milstead said.

"We're trying to limit the taxation on the voters as much as possible," school board President Lori Stilley said.

School board members will ask the School Building Authority for the $17.5 million over a three-year period. Board members are requesting $1 million the first year, $8 million the second year and $8.5 million the third year.

Board members are requesting the funding to be spread out over three years because the board believes the School Building Authority has limited funds for school construction projects across the state this year, said Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols.

The board did not want to ask the School Building Authority for a large amount of money that may be "outlandish" in the eyes of Authority members, Nichols said.

Board members must have their funding request filed with the School Building Authority office in Charleston, W.Va., by Tuesday.

The board should know by December whether it will get the funding, Nichols said.

It was unclear when the Economic Development Grant Committee would distribute the money.

For several years there has been a push to build a second high school to prepare the school system for anticipated student population growth.

Jefferson High School has been more than 200 students over capacity in recent years. The school has been deteriorating, although some renovations have been under way.

Under the renovation plan discussed by the board of education Tuesday, Jefferson High would receive $8.9 million in improvements, including a new science and technology wing, a new library, computer lab and gymnasium.

The work will also include new floors and ceilings, renovations to the dining room, kitchen and auditorium, new interior lighting and a new bus loop.

The idea is to make Jefferson High School as attractive as the new high school, said Nichols.

The second high school, which board members are hoping to build on 60 acres at the proposed Huntfield development just south of Charles Town, would hold 1,200 students and be 196,800 square feet in size, according to plans handed out at the board meeting.

It would also include a science and technology center designed to prepare students and adults for jobs in the high-tech field.

Board members hope to have both projects completed by 2006.

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