SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — A public workshop will be held Thursday at Nicholas County High School regarding efforts to find a solution for building schools in Nicholas County.

The meeting is being hosted by Consensus Building Institute, who is guiding the mediation team responsible for coming up with an agreement to present to Nicholas County Board of Education. The local board, as well as the West Virginia Board of Education, has to approve the plan.

The two-pronged proposed recommendation is a community school or schools to be located on one campus within a three-mile radius of the former Richwood High School and the construction of a middle school, comprehensive high school and technical education center near the “geographic center of Nicholas County.”

The meeting will include small group discussions to allow residents to give their input and share ideas with others.

“All of the information we get — whether it’s someone sending us an email, whether they write it on a comment card, whether they write it on an index card at the end of the small group — all of that information will be compiled and we will release a summary,” said Stacie Smith, senior mediator with Consensus Building Institute.

Smith added it is not so much about the number of comments submitted, but rather the substance of people’s remarks.

“Just getting 60 people to say the same thing, even if it’s in different words, that’s not going to make it any more useful to the mediation team,” she said. “They just want to see what ideas to people have, what feedback do people have. They are not expecting this is a representative sample.”

The state Board of Education twice rejected a plan to consolidate five schools — Richwood Middle and Summersville Middle Schools and Nicholas County and Richwood High Schools, along with the Career and Technical Education Facility — onto one campus in the Summersville area. Board members said they were concerned the local board did not listen to concerns from Richwood residents or explore alternative proposals.

FEMA selected Consensus Building Institute to help guide mediators, which include Nicholas County Schools Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick, Nicholas County Board of Education President Gus Penix and board member Fred Amick, in addition to West Virginia Superintendent Steve Paine, state Board of Education President Tom Campbell and Vice President Dave Perry.

The mediation process has to be completed by June 15 in order to not risk losing funding from FEMA.

Thursday’s workshop will be held between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m

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