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North Middle renovation gets $1 million boost

December 14, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Schools was awarded $1 million in state funding Monday to support the renovation and expansion of Martinsburg North Middle School, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon confirmed Tuesday.

The county school district was one of six that were awarded Major Improvement Program  project grants by the West Virginia School Building Authority at the board’s quarterly meeting.

The state funding will be used to renovate core areas of the school, including the gymnasium and hopefully the cafeteria, Arvon said.

The renovation work will support a 20-classroom addition that now is under construction, Arvon said. Expected to be completed in August 2011, the $4.2 million classroom addition is being paid for through a $51.5 million bond issue that county voters overwhelmingly approved in 2009, he said.

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The locally generated bond money was used as leverage to net the maximum amount of MIP money possible, Arvon said.

“This goes back to the excellent partnership we have with the SBA,” Arvon said of the local support for the school district’s capital-improvement needs.

After North Middle students move into the new classroom addition, the existing classrooms will be renovated in the third and final stage of the renovation/expansion project at the school, Arvon said. The school system also plans to continue to use modular or portable classroom structures during the transition, he said.

The classroom renovations in the third phase are not expected to be finished until 2012, Arvon said.

A general contracting bid for construction of the 20-classroom addition at North Middle, along with a 20-room addition at Musselman High School, was awarded to Minghini’s General Contractors Inc. in Martinsburg about six months ago.

The total cost for the additions, including separate contracts for utilities and furnishings, was about $7.3 million, which Arvon said Tuesday was “wonderful” for the school district.

“As long as this market is competitive we’re going to be able to build a lot more building for our dollars,” he said.

A new middle school planned near Gerrardstown, W.Va., is next in line to be presented to the SBA for funding consideration, Arvon said.

Prior to the MIP grant awarded Monday, the school district netted a $25 million commitment from the SBA for a new high school at Spring Mills in northern Berkeley County last year. That award was contingent upon county voter approval of the school system’s plan to issue $51.5 million in bonds for construction and renovation projects. Voters overwhelmingly backed the bond issue in a special election in 2009.

Other school projects awarded MIP grants by the SBA on Monday were in Fayette, Hampshire, Preston, Putnam and Randolph counties.

MIP grants are designed to address major improvements to existing facilities that are financed through local school district maintenance budgets, according to the SBA.

In other action, the SBA board Monday also awarded a $294,569 “3 percent” statewide grant to James Rumsey Technical Institute near Hedgesville, W.Va., for an air-handling systems project, according to the Authority’s website.

Three percent of the total funds available for SBA’s distribution are set aside to address projects that are regional or statewide in scope, according to the SBA.

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