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Jefferson County planning to build two elementary

April 10, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Two new elementary schools being planned in Jefferson County will cost about $25 million to build and could be paid for with state money, school impact fees and gambling revenues if county residents approve casino table games for Charles Town Races & Slots, school officials said Monday.

Jefferson County Schools officials said last week they are planning to build two more elementary schools to accommodate growing enrollment in schools.

School officials would like to start construction on one school next year and possibly start building the second one in 2009, said Pete Dougherty, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

They hope the schools will be completed by 2010, Dougherty said.

It will cost about $25 million to build the schools, including land acquisition, Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said.

Dougherty said the school system should be able to pay for the schools with money from the state School Building Authority and school impact fees that are collected in the county.

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If voters approve casino table games for the track June 9, the school system should have enough money to build the schools without seeking a tax increase to pay for them, Dougherty said.

In the casino table games bill passed in the recent session of the state Legislature, about 3 percent of the track's gross table game receipts was set aside for new school construction in the county if the games are approved by county voters.

If approved, the games are expected to generate about $1 million a year for schools, officials said.

One reason that school officials want to build the elementary schools is because they are concerned about the approximately 20 portable classrooms being used at the county's eight elementary schools, Dougherty said.

Portable classrooms are detached buildings that teachers use for classrooms.

"We are at capacity in our buildings," Dougherty said.

Although portable classrooms give school systems an alternative when dealing with increasing student populations, they can present security concerns and other issues, Dougherty said.

School officials have declined to say where the elementary schools might be built for fear it could affect the price the school system might have to pay for land.

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