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W.Va. awards $16.4 million for Berkeley, Jefferson county schools

April 21, 2008

EASTERN PANHANDLE, W.Va.-- The state School Building Authority awarded $16.4 million to the Berkeley and Jefferson county public school systems Monday to help them construct new schools, officials said.

The authority awarded $10 million to Berkeley County Schools for a new primary school in Spring Mills, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said Monday afternoon. Jefferson County was awarded $6.4 million to build a new elementary school near the Breckenridge subdivision north of Charles Town, W.Va.

In Berkeley County, Arvon said the money, matched with $1 million in local funding, will be used to build a school for 500 students, with a potential to increase capacity to 750.

The new school will offset crowded conditions at northern Berkeley County's two primary schools in Bedington and Marlowe, W.Va., where 12 portable classrooms are being used, Arvon said.

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The new school is expected to be built at the school district's Spring Mills campus off U.S. 11 near W.Va. 901 as part of a long-range growth plan that includes the new Spring Mills High School," Arvon said.

He credited the county's prior commitment of local tax dollars and general revenue to building schools, more than $80 million since 1990, as a reason for the School Building Authority award.

"We do have a good partnership with the SBA," Arvon said.

Arvon also noted the Eastern Panhandle ties of two School Building Authority board members, Connie Perry and Tom Lange, which he said helps "a great deal."

The county is using 106 portable classrooms, Arvon said.

In Jefferson County, Pete Dougherty, president of the county's Board of Education, also touted his board's good relationship with the SBA.

Some people have questioned whether there were good relations between the authority and Jefferson County, but those concerns have been put to rest with the authority's decision to fund an entire $6.4 million request to help build a new elementary school next to the Breckenridge subdivision north of Charles Town, W.Va., Dougherty said.

Dougherty said the new school is needed to accommodate growing residential development in Breckenridge, Halltown, Bakerton and other nearby areas, and to help relieve crowding in other elementary schools.

Dougherty has said the school will cost about $10 million and would be paid for through local school impact fees and funding from the state SBA.

Dougherty has said the school could be completed within 18 months.

The new Jefferson County elementary school will allow school officials to do away with most portable classrooms at primary schools across the county, said Superintendent of Schools Susan Wall.

-- By DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

and MATTHEW UMSTEAD

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

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