Spring Mills Primary School dedicated

August 11, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Spring Mills Primary School, the first SBA-funded school built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, was dedicated Thursday.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

SPRING MILLS, W.Va. — Deciding where the West Virginia School Building Authority would build its first "green" school in the state a few years ago only took about five seconds, authority Executive Director Mark A. Manchin said Thursday.

"We look first at leadership — you've got an outstanding superintendent," Manchin said at the dedication of Spring Mills Primary School, the first SBA-funded school built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification.  

Aside from the work of Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon, Manchin said the school district's history of working together and construction of previous schools that were financed — at least in part — with SBA money also were factors in the decision.

Outfitted with waterless urinals, a geothermal heating and cooling system and lighting fixtures that automatically react to the amount of natural light coming through the windows, officials expect Spring Mills Primary will use about 33 percent less energy and more than 30 percent less water than a conventional building of the same size.

Arvon directed the attention of more than 100 people attending Thursday's dedication to a colorful mural painted on the wall of the school's cafeteria-assembly area that depicts a simplified explanation of the school's geothermal system.

While the state paid for all but about 8 percent of 63,380-square-foot building's $13 million cost, Arvon said the SBA only paid for about 8 percent of the neighboring Spring Mills Middle School, with local taxpayers primarily footing the bill there.

"The reason we can (build) these schools is because of you," Arvon said. "The support in this community for Berkeley County schools ... is outstanding,"

Along with taxpayer's support for school construction, Arvon credited the strong support of SBA members Eric J. Lewis and Tom Lange as well as former member Connie Perry.

"Tom carries our water so to speak," said Arvon, who described Manchin as a "friend" who understands the facility needs of Eastern Panhandle school districts. Arvon said the school board are his "five best friends," prompting laughter among those gathered.

Since the Spring Mills project began, similar green school projects have been started in Cabell and Monongalia counties, according to Manchin and Lange.

"The good Lord is not going to make any more land .... This is it, we are entrusted," Manchin told those gathered.  

 Sharon Rogers, who was principal at Marlowe Elementary last year before moving to Spring Mills Primary this year, said she is very excited about her new assignment.

"We're blending these kids from Hedgesville, Marlowe Elementary and Bedington, and we want it to all blend together well," Rogers said in an interview.

Rogers says enrollment currently stands at about 300 students with 40 or more staff members, but she expects the school numbers to grow quickly.

"We get calls every day, people moving into the neighborhood wanting transfers ... I can't honor all of them because we're getting pretty tight," Rogers said. Out of habit, Rogers said she finds herself wanting to turn off lights in the new building only to be reminded the system is automatic, motion-activated.

In addition to the energy efficient features, such as the pitched ceilings to maximize natural lighting, Rogers said the staff may pursue some outdoor gardening in partnership with area garden clubs.

"I'm hoping we can maybe have veggies, herbs, flowers, and who knows what else we might plant out there," Rogers said, smiling.

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