ELKVIEW, W.Va. — A very different school year begins Monday in Kanawha County, but Project GPA will be in place for a 12th year.
The school safety operation, run by the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, was officially kicked off for the 2016-17 school year at a news conference Friday afternoon at Elkview Middle School.
“School starts Monday morning nice and early, a lot of people are unaware (of that),” said Sheriff John Rutherford. “When you go out Monday morning and the children are at the bus stops, you’re going to see a lot of police cars, ambulances and emergency management people with lights on.”
Due to the damage from the June 23 flood, Elkview Middle School will be hosting Herbert Hoover High School students, and Bridge Elementary will host Clendenin Elementary students to begin the year.
County Commission President Kent Carper said extra precautions would be taken to deal with the increased traffic and students at the two schools.
“Special emphasis is being placed on the Elk Community because they need it,” Carper said. “There’ll be deputy sheriffs here to see to it that your children are safe. The school house should be the safest house around, and I’m confident that’s exactly the way it’ll be here.”
Rutherford said the circumstances for the coming school year are a challenge, but plenty of safety measures will be in place.
“We have signs posted, we’ll have the deputies positioned at the entrances and exits during the busy periods, we have a deputy assigned all day long along with the principals doing their job,” he explained. “It’s a challenge, but as we always do in Kanawha County we’ll meet the challenge and try to make it as safe as possible.”
Carper warned against anyone causing any additional problems in the already struggling Elk River community this school year.
“Just a word of advice: this is no place to show up and try to cause any trouble for the whole school year,” he cautioned. “I don’t think the sheriff’s department will put up with it, and I know the principals won’t.”
The Kanawha Sheriff’s Office has three full-time school resource officers at every county middle school and high school.
Operation GPA also involves securing graduation and prom nights.