CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Monday is the day the state School Building Authority will hand out $45 million in funding to build new facilities and improve others. The authority meets at Capital High School to go over requests from 21 counties totaling $170 million.
“There’s always much more requests than money available. It’s not uncommon. There’s well over $2 billion in need across the state of West Virginia,” according to SBA Executive Director Mark Manchin.
He expects the SBA to meet for at least a couple of hours to narrow down the projects and then divvy up the funding to those projects that are most worthy. Manchin explained that’s not easy.
“I know ($45-million) sounds like a lot of money but when a new high schools costs in excess of $40-million, a new elementary school in excess of $15-million and a new middle school in excess of $20 million, it doesn’t take long to go through these funds,” said Manchin.
The school systems gave their presentations to the SBA last month. Some counties were asking for just a little, a few hundred thousand, to add a classroom or build a new secure entry. Other counties need major funding into the millions of dollars to help build brand new schools.
Manchin said the SBA is focused on a couple key criteria for funding.
“The health and safety of children is the highest criteria. Second is local participation,” he explained.
The SBA tends to help those counties who help themselves by offering up local funds to go along with the SBA money to complete a project.
This time around Manchin said one county stands out when it comes to the need for funding.
“The authority feels very strongly about the Wayne County bond. So we’ll be giving a high priority to the Wayne County bond that will be running in May and building two new schools, one at Crum and one at Ceredo Kenova.”
Wayne County voters failed to pass a bond the last two times its been on the ballot. They lost SBA funding because of that. Manchin said at this point, Wayne is in desperate need of the two new schools to provide a safe and friendly learning environment.
This will be Manchin’s last SBA funding cycle. He will become Harrison County’s new Superintendent of Schools in June. His replacement at the SBA has not been selected.