PETERSTOWN, W.Va. — The Monroe County Board of Education is trying to move forward after a second attempt to pass a school bond failed.
Voters from across the southern West Virginia county took to the polls Saturday to vote on the proposed $5.8 million bond that would have helped build new Peterstown elementary and middle schools. The current schools have several safety and infrastructure issues including a faulty sewage system, electrical problems as well as frequent heating and air conditioning outages.
Monroe County Board of Education member Andrew Evans told MetroNews affiliate WJLS: The Voice of Beckley he thought they would be successful this time.
“I thought we had a better chance this time around. The results kind of did surprise me that we were still about 400 or 500 votes short. But it’s a democratic process, the voters voted the way that they voted. We just have to move on from here.”
Evans is also concerned the Peterstown schools that would have been replaced with the funding pose a safety threat to students. He said it does not have the same safety measures in place as newer facilities. Right now, elementary students are forced to walk outside of the building to get to portable classrooms.
“The first thing that we think about with all of this is the safety of our students. You hate to think that something could happen in a little town such as Peterstown, but it’s happening everywhere.”
If the $5.8 million proposal did pass, it would have been combined with another $16 million from the State School Building Authority to help fund the $24 million school. The county will now lose the $16 million. Evans knew this was one of the largest investments in Monroe County’s history.
“Like a lot of counties in West Virginia, our people travel to Virginia and to other places to work. We don’t have a great deal going on here right now. This would have been huge for Monroe County. Part of that $16 million were our tax dollars.”
In August, commissioners decided to place a $100 ambulance fee on every county household following the closure of the Union Rescue Squad. The fee’s timing left residents confused as the county has been receiving services from neighboring Greenbrier County. This is believed to have hurt the vote’s chances even further, but Peters agreed that fee was necessary.
“They had to do something. They were placed in an extremely difficult situation with the rescue squad in Union. There had to be some revenue generated there to continue providing the emergency services for people on that end of the county. It did have a negative impact on our voters.”
For now, the land already purchased for the new elementary and middle schools will remain vacant. The Board of Education plans on attempting to pass a similar bond in the future.
Unofficial results show 877 voted for the bond Saturday while 1,223 voted against it. Official results will be released once the certification process is complete.