CHARLESTON, W.Va. — School administrators in 18 West Virginia counties have their fingers crossed Monday as the state School Building Authority makes decisions on which of those projects presented earlier this year will get a measure of funding from the state.
“We try to do our best to fund as many of the projects as we can,” said School Building Authority Executive Director David Sneed. “This year we only had 18 projects submitted, so there will be a bigger percentage probably than in past years.”
Despite the low number of projects submitted, it’s unlikely all of them will win approval. Sneed said as usual, there isn’t enough money to cover all of the needs brought to them for consideration. Like most state agencies, the SBA has been forced to tighten its belt and endured some funding cutbacks, but through a measure of good fortune, they’ve been able to offset those losses this year.
“Our funding is basically the same as last year with some interest earnings,” Sneed explained. “We had some projects come in under budget and those amounts have come back to us so we’ve made up some of that, so we won’t be doing too bad.”
There is $54 million available for awards this year, but Sneed said the first four million will be awarded to Raleigh County in the second year of a funding award from last year. The balance will be about $50 million for the projects submitted in 2016. Among those is the Fayette County Schools project which is likely to be among those to win approval. The Fayette County work has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years as the schools there have fallen into grave disrepair. The project was rejected a year ago, but the plan was repackaged for 2016 in a manner which may make it a more favorable option for the authority.
“Last year the amount was so high we couldn’t tackle that big number,” said Sneed of the Fayette County projects. “The plan before us this year is a phased in plan and addresses some immediate needs.”
Among the needs for Fayette County are construction of a new elementary school and funding the replacement of the now condemned Collins Middle School.