CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Randolph County elementary school that had to be closed after a March storm will stay that way following a decision Wednesday from state School Superintendent Steve Paine and members of the state Board of Education.

Paine made an Emergency School Closure Declaration for Homestead Elementary School and the board backed his decision.

“The exorbitant cost to repair that building completely right now and the fact that they’ve already transitioned, there is no question that I’m within my authority to declare an emergency closure for Homestead Elementary School,” Paine told the board.

A strong storm hit the Dailey community at just after 11 a.m. on March 1 as students were beginning lunch. A section of the gym’s roof was ripped off and it hit the cafeteria. There were no injuries.

The students finished the school year at George Ward Elementary where they will continue to go, Paine said.

“The movement of the kids already occurred last year in March so the community has adjusted, everyone’s adapted, everyone has bought in,” Paine said.

There were discussions in late 2016 to close the school but the Randolph County Board of Education eventually voted against it. The storm hit a few months later. The local board did vote last year to close Valley Head Elementary and those students will also be attending at George Ward beginning this school year.

It’s possible the Homestead building could eventually become a community center, Randolph County School Superintendent Gabe Devono told state BOE members. The building and its 17 acres were deeded to Randolph County from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the Depression-era New Deal program. Devono said the USDA appears willing to turn over the building.

“They said if our board would write a letter to them stating that we support a historical community center and a community center type program there then they would give the land to them,” Devono said.

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