CHARLESTON, W.Va. — What’s being called a potential agreement to solve the Nicholas County post-flood school building controversy includes a new school complex for the Richwood area and a second school complex centralized in Nicholas County.
The mediation team, which is made up of representatives from the Nicholas County school system and the state Department of Education, met for two days earlier this week in Charleston. Details of the “potential agreement” were released Friday evening.
One of the recommendations is a community school or schools to be located on the same campus within a three-mile radius of the former Richwood High School. The schools would cover pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.
“The school(s) should include distinct spaces for an elementary, middle and high school–even if co-located on a shared campus–and should preserve the current school names, team names, mascots and school cultures of schools located in Richwood,” the public update provided Friday said.
A second recommendation is for a middle and comprehensive high school to be “located near the geographic center of Nicholas County with an integrated career-technical education program and facility.”
According to the update, the centralized school should include “distinct spaces for middle and high school” along with keeping school names, mascots, etc.
The mediation team said Nicholas County families would be able to select the high school or middle school that “best meet their educational needs.” The schools would be built in such a way to allow flexibility to meet future demographic and enrollment changes.
The mediation team will host a public workshop to gather public input April 12 from 6-8 p.m. at Nicholas County High School in Summersville.
The situation took shape after devastating floods struck Nicholas County two summers ago, destroying Richwood High and Middle and Summersville Middle schools.
After a series of public hearings, the Nicholas County board decided on its consolidation plan, opting to use an alternative form of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to pool all flood-recovery money into one pool to rebuild schools.
The local school board voted to combine five schools — Richwood Middle and Summersville Middle Schools and Nicholas County and Richwood High Schools, along with the Career and Technical Education Facility — at one campus in the Summersville area.
The state board twice rejected that plan — expressing concern that local board members didn’t adequately listen to concerns from Richwood residents and that alternatives might exist.
The dispute then went through the courts system, ending at the state Supreme Court, which said the sides should go back to the drawing board.
The path to mediation began soon after that with both sides agreeing to start exploring a conflict management approach
The mediation is being led by Consensus Building Institute which was hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help the parties reach an agreement. Mediation has to be completed by June 15 in order to not lose any funds from FEMA.
The mediation team includes Nicholas County Schools Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick, Board of Education President Gus Penix and board member Fred Amick, in addition to state Superintendent Steve Paine, state Board of Education President Tom Campbell and Vice President Dave Perry.
MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinny contributed to this story.