CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The superintendent of Ritchie County Schools says a school bond that failed in September will be issued again during the May Primary Election now that the county has secured $1.4 million in funding from the state School Building Authority.
“It’s a good day for Ritchie County,” said superintendent Rick Coffman following the SBA meeting in Charleston Monday where 22 counties, including Ritchie, were awarded more than $49.2 million in funding for school construction projects.
Coffman told MetroNews a new bond will be issued May 8 and will only include a proposal to consolidate three of the county’s four elementary schools — Harrisville, Ellenboro and Creed Collins. The bond would pay for construction of a new elementary school in Ellensboro.
The original $9.9 million bond, which was rejected 981-778, included the elementary school consolidation and renovations/additions to Ritchie County Middle/High School.
Coffman said the $1.4 million in SBA funding will go toward the middle/high school project.
“So now that this project is separate and we can take it off the table, our plan is to rerun the bond May 8 with the election and just run it as a new elementary school only,” he said.
The Ritchie County Middle/High School project includes security upgrades to the front entrance of the school, exterior door replacements and the relocation of administrative offices.
“By the time we’re done, you’re going to take a facility that’s approximately 25 years old and give it a much needed face lift,” Coffman said. “It will improve instruction and definitely make the whole school grounds much safer.”
Of the $49.2 million in SBA funding, $6 million was allocated to seven counties for roof repairs. Those counties include:
Tyler: $1.1 million
Hancock: $1 million
Lincoln: $1 million
Preston: $1.9 million
The other winning counties include:
Randolph: $5.3 million
Monongalia: $4 million
Kanawha: $6.9 million
Wyoming: $3 million
Wayne $3.6 million
Ritchie: $1.4 million
Wirt: $1 million
Winning counties with multi-year projects include:
Cabell: $4.1 million ($2.4 million this year)
Wood: $4.5 million ($2.9 million this year)
Mercer: $6.1 million ($4.5 million this year)
Deborah Akers, superintendent at Mercer County Schools, said they plan to consolidate Memorial and Whitethorn elementary schools and build a new PK-2 Elementary School in Bluefield.
“We have two really old schools built in the ’20s and they really need to be replaced, so this will be a great thing for the kids,” Akers said.
The SBA will allocate $6.1 million to Mercer County over the next few years. The county received $4.5 million for this year.
Akers said they can start the design process now that they have they have secured the funding.
“First step, of course, is working on design, hiring the architect and getting input from the community on what they’d like to see in the building,” she said.
Cabell County school officials are also excited to build a new elementary school. The county will receive $4.1 million in SBA funds to build a new Highlawn Elementary School. About $2.4 million was awarded to the county this year.
Superintendent Ryan Saxe said the new school will be built on the site of the former Enslow Middle School.
“We can actually begin demolishing the old middle school within the next several months,” Saxe said.
The new facility will house about 300 students in the Highlawn community.
“The Highlawn school is in the heart of America’s Best Community and this continues the momentum of making sure that we’re showcasing all of the wonderful things that is going on, not just in Cabell County, but also Huntington,” Saxe said.
To view a full list of SBA project proposals, CLICK HERE.