FAIRPLAIN, W.Va. — State Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares said he’s pleased they were able to work out a deal on the Cedar Lakes Conference Center. The arrangement will have the state Department of Education gradually transfer control and operations at the resort to a private foundation over the next two years.
“Our board was charged under the audit response to privatize Cedar Lakes and get it under the control of somebody else,” said Phares.
The original plan was to close the resort, but the idea brought howls of protest from the local community. The uprising spawned the creation of a foundation which will operate the longtime meeting facility. Under the direction of the state Department of Education the resort has been a drain on finances and an area where expenditures commonly exceeded any growth or profit. Phares said partly to blame is the state schcools budget.
“Because they are under the Department of Education they have to pay employee rates for cooks, custodians, grass cutters, etc,” he said. “That’s caused them to be above market rates on what they pay employees.”
Once in the hands of the foundation the structure of the pay scale for Cedar Lakes employees can be adjusted to a more reasonable pay scale.
The foundation has asked for a supplemental appropriation from the school board to fund the operation during the transitional period. Phares said the school board is okay with the arrangement, but the final decision lies with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office.