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Board wants stand-alone library in Spring Mills

April 22, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The new high school at Spring Mills is not expected to include a public library, officials said Wednesday.

Mary Boyd Kearse, chairwoman of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library's board, said the library system intends to move forward with plans to develop a permanent facility at 1255 TJ Jackson Drive in the community of Spring Mills.

"It is really not economically good for us to go into the school," said Kearse of funding cuts the library system has had to absorb recently.

Residents in northern Berkeley County have also expressed an interest in having a library branch that is a stand-alone facility, Kearse said.

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The North Berkeley Library currently operates in a modular facility on two acres that was donated by developer Allen Henry for a permanent site.

"It's a wonderful piece of property," Kearse said.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II, who was well aware of the library's intentions, said he hopes to have site work for the new high school advertised for contractors to bid on this summer and the advertisement for construction by Nov. 1.

The new school's construction was made possible when voters in September 2009 approved the school board's plan to issue $51.5 million in bonds for four building and renovation projects.

With the bond issue approval in hand, the school district netted another $25 million for the high school project from the West Virginia School Building Authority.

On Tuesday, the Berkeley County Board of Education adopted levy rates for paying off the new bond issue that is helping finance the school construction. The levy rates for Class II (10.48 cents per $100 in assessed value) and Class III and IV (20.96) are expected to net $6.8 million from property owners in the next fiscal year, according to the school district.

The school district's Expense and Excess Levy rates remain unchanged.

Arvon said voters will be paying somewhat less than what school officials had projected when the bond issue proposal was promoted last fall. An owner of a house appraised at $200,000 then projected to pay $69.35 per year.

"As the years progress and the economy comes back, they're going to see a greater reduction," Arvon said.

In addition to the high school bids, Arvon said he hopes to be able to advertise projects to add classrooms at Martinsburg North Middle and Musselman High schools this year as well.

Arvon said he is considering advertising the two expansion projects as a package to see if additional savings is possible.

"I think it's important to take advantage of the market," Arvon said.

A new middle school near Gerrardstown also is part of the school system's building plan.

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