MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The state Board of Education voted Friday to give conditional approval to Nicholas County’s post-flood school consolidation plan as its waits on the state Supreme Court to take up the controversy.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom told the board earlier this week to either grant conditional approval or post a $130 million bond to cover the FEMA funding that could be lost if a plan isn’t approved by the end of the year.
State Department of Education Chief Communications Director Kristin Anderson said the bond really wasn’t an option so the board went with conditional approval.
“There’s very much a sense that they were left with no other choice,” Anderson told MetroNews after the board’s vote Friday during its meeting in Morgantown.
The state Board still doesn’t like the Nicholas County board’s plan that would combine Richwood and Nicholas County high schools and Richwood and Summersville middle schools into two centrally located schools. The two Richwood schools and Summersville Middle were destroyed in last year’s flood.
Conditional approval means the Nicholas BOE can start implementing its plan, Anderson said.
“They can move forward until such time we hear back from the state Supreme Court,” she said.
The state Board has asked the High Court to put a hold on Judge Bloom’s original ruling and there’s a pending appeal of the ruling that will be argued before the Court on Oct. 3.
“The (state) board still believes the decisions they’ve made regarding Nicholas County–they’ve done what they feel is in the best interest of the students of Nicholas County and what is allowable under their constitutional authority,” Anderson said.
Judge Bloom ruled the state BOE had overstepped its authority and was arbitrary in its rejection of the Nicholas County plan.