Board urged to hold school bond vote

May 22, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A local state senator says he believes the Jefferson County Board of Education needs to have an election on a proposed school construction bond sooner than next May, the date school officials are considering.

Sen. Herb Snyder said the indication he gets from state officials is that the board of education needs to have a commitment on local funding for a second high school before it goes to the state School Building Authority for help on funding for the project.

Jefferson County Schools officials plan to ask the building authority in November for money to help pay for a second high school, which is expected to cost at least $30 million.


To increase its chances for funding from the School Building Authority, Snyder said the board of education needs to "step up to the bar" and put up as much money as it can, and as quickly as possible, through a bond.

Snyder, D-Jefferson, discussed the issue during a board of education meeting Tuesday night at Blue Ridge Elementary School.

School Board President Lori Stilley said she believes it is important to have a commitment from the School Building Authority first. She said it does not make any sense to get approval for a local bond then run the risk of not getting any state money for the project.

Stilley said the School Board thinks running a bond question during the primary election next May makes the most sense because it saves taxpayers the cost of a special election.

Del. Dale Manuel, who was not at Tuesday's School Board meeting, said he sees no problem with having the bond election next May.

Manuel, D-Jefferson, said he believes Jefferson County will get funding from the School Building Authority, especially since the school system has the land for the new high school.

Developers of the Huntfield development south of Charles Town recently agreed to donate 57 acres to the school system for the new high school.

The Board of Education has been struggling to get money for a second high school.

The School Building Authority recently turned down a $15 million funding request from the School Board and last week, a $6 million request from the state Economic Development Grant Committee for the high school project was thrown into limbo when the state Supreme Court said the committee was unconstitutionally formed.

Although the Supreme Court nixed the project along with $209 million worth of other requests, it upheld the committee's basic function and pointed a way for a revamped committee to reissue the grants.

Manuel said part of the work to be done, which probably will be accomplished in a special session of the Legislature this summer, will be setting up criteria for the awarding of grant money.

Manuel said he believes one of the criteria should be that grant money would be favored for projects that tie strong education programs to economic growth.

Local school officials have said a second high school is needed for strong economic growth in Jefferson County.

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