ELKINS, W. Va. – Students at Harman School in Randolph County will begin the 2014 school year in different locations after a unanimous decision was made by the Randolph County Board of Education during Tuesday night’s special session held at Elkins High School.

The reason for the action is because over the July 4 weekend, a large section of plaster fell from the ceiling in one of the rooms. The state Fire Marshal’s Office and architectural firm deemed the building was not safe until repairs can be made.

A venue change to the theater at Elkins High School for the meeting was requested in anticipation of a large crowd.

This proved to be a correct presumption.

Hundreds of students, parents and community members from Harman showed up to support the school and voice their concerns, which ranged from the future of the school itself to the lengthy bus rides when traveling to the alternative schools.

“The kids could be getting on the bus as early as 5 a.m., some getting off the buses as late as 6 p.m.,” Karin Huffman, a parent of four students at Harman said. “It makes for an extremely long day, especially for the younger students, some being as young as five years of age.”

The 150 students would be travelling from Harman to Elkins High, Elkins Middle, Midland Elementary and Jennings Randolph Elementary. Several facilities closer to Harman and others will be evaluated as possible temporary facilities.

Another concern brought up is this bus ride would affect the time students, and teachers, would have to do work outside of the classroom.

“It’s going to disallow [students] extra time in order to get their homework assignments done,” Dave Armentrout, a teacher at Harman said. “Or, actually, preparation even for the teachers because we’re ultimately the ones too that’s going to have to travel that distance and it may cut back on the time that we have to actually have in close contact with the students as well as plan for the next day’s events.”

Another concern which drove residents out in droves on Tuesday night was the fear this relocation would lead to the ultimate end of the Harman School.

However, in an executive session, the board amended the superintendent’s proposal so it would read he has authority to “develop a plan to temporarily relocate students to alternative educational facilities.”

“There was no language in that recommendation suggesting possibly closing Harman School,” Superintendent of Schools in Randolph County Terry George said. “That is not the goal of the administration nor the board members. Our goal is to make the necessary repairs to return the students of Harman back to their home school.”

The attention now turns to acquiring the estimated $175,000 needed to make the emergency repairs to get the students back to Harman and the $775,000 to remediate the entire facility.

Two anonymous donors kicked of the funding at the meeting with a check of $50,000 and $5,000.

“We got a good start tonight when we got commitments from donations inside totaling $55,000 and we have a commitment from the County Commission for another considerable amount of money,” George said. “So we feel that we’re probably halfway to where we need to make the emergency repairs.”

Besides the County Commission, other politicians representing the area are working to secure funding.

Members of the legislature attempted to contact officials back in Charleston to see what could be done on a state level. The talks were progressing Tuesday but stalled in the evening before the meeting.

“We were really, really thinking that [Tuesday] we’d have some funds that would be coming from Charleston to help us,” Delegate Denise Campbell (43rd District – Randolph County) said. “Not for sure exactly what happened that sort of put a wrench in that, but we are not going to stop at not having any assistance from Charleston.”

There are grants available the county can apply for, however most do not become available until after the school year starts on August 14.

A fund has been set up at Grant County Bank — which has seven locations in the area, including one in Harman — for people who would like to donate to the repair efforts.

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Comments

  • Paul

    I hope the community of Harman gets their representatives to see the damage. Is this an emergency repair for ceiling plaster falling or a way to find other faults and an "oh my" we better keep the school closed.

  • Tom

    Teach, I must agree with you. There is too much emphasis on teaching a college prep curriculum that many of our kids cannot handle nor need in today's world. If a young man or woman would just take an entry level job in about any company, even without a college degree, they will progress to the top and end up with a good paying job. All they need is to show some motivation, dedication, and stay drug free. I have seen the evidence time and again. It is not difficult to move up in many professions that do not require a college degree for someone with those traits. With the condition of our present workforce, there are many places begging for employees who will simply work hard, show up everyday, and stay drug free.

  • Teach

    Good job Harman parents and students! Continue to Fight to keep your school! Already donations are being made! Don't give up and keep at them! Attend every meeting!

    If this damage took place July 4th, why did it take so long to get people to inspect it? Seems like a lot of time was wasted!!

    Why do we as WV citizens let the WVBOE tell us that each county must pass an excess levy before they will give out money for repairs or building?? Taxpayers are paying for all those positions at the state level and anyone can tell you they have TOO MANY employees working at the state level and many are appointed by the governor. People need to get out and vote! But the bottom line is the State BOE has $$$$ and lots of it that should go to repair schools instead of consolidating because how are they going to maintain the new ones. Just like everything else in this country, it tears up- throw it away and buy new. We don't even teach our kids how to do anything anymore. Our Vo-Techs should be teaching plumbing, construction, and machine repair. In my county we have two people that repair appliances and one could already retire. I guess we will then be forced to take it to landfill and buy new! It's sad! These people make a good living but we force these kids into taking a required Spanish class and tell them that you can't make it in life without a college degree.

    Students need to know that they can do anything they want in life such as attending college if they will believe in themselves! It doesn't require making a 25 on the ACT to be successful in college. The biggest problem most students face is paying for college.

    This country tries to blame teachers for students not graduating or going on to college but they are not telling the public about all those college Grads out there that can't find jobs and they are so far in debt with college loans that they can't even buy their first home.

    I know students that want to go to college. They also want to take welding, agriculture and have college ready classes. Right now with all the require subjects and credits that are required it's not even possible starting as a freshman and this is America!! SAD!

  • J.

    I do not understand why school systems do not have insurance for problems like this.

  • Tom

    One of us is confused. I thought the levy that passed was for instructional or extracurricular use only. The bond levy that failed was for maintenance and upkeep.

    They told us then that some schools might be in danger if that levy did not pass. Sounds like the voters got what they wanted.

  • Mary C. Higgins

    Isn't it amazing, that even though the RCBOE passed a levy for the maintenance and upkeep of the county schools, it doesn't have $175,000. in a contingency fund to start the repairs at Harman School. Seems to me, a school system in such financial distress should be "taken over" by the StateBOE.

    • Retired Teacher

      They were...... Steve Paine appointed , Jim Phares... Jim Phares hired Steve Paine's son for an invented job..... Jim Phares became state super, and his son was hired as a PE teacher in Randolph county (over more highly qualified teachers).....

      State takeover=cronyism

      • Tom

        Steve Paine's son replaced Mo Kittle who retired, it was not an invented job.

        • Bill

          sip your kool-aid Tom, please don't gulp it you might tell another one!

          • Bill

            Tom,
            Nobody is grasping, he and the prosecuting attn wife. both got jobs, others were better qualified for and what causes are you talkin about , the BOEs failure to do maintaince checks on out of town schools!

          • Tom

            Bill, I am not arguing with the speculations or accusations being made. Just trying to keep the facts correct. You all can grasp at any rumors you want to prove your points just do not make something up just because it furthers your cause.