RITCHIE COUNTY, W.Va. — The county school superintendent in Ritchie County is calling Tuesday’s bond vote during the May 8 primary election “one of the most important votes” in Ritchie County’s history.

“Really, if the bond passes, we’ll be in good shape — school facility wise — in Ritchie County for the next 40 or 50 years,” Superintendent Rick Coffman told MetroNews on Friday.

As proposed, the $7.9 million bond would fund a new elementary school in Ellenboro.

It would consolidate the existing Ellenboro Elementary, Harrisville Elementary and Creed Collins Elementary, all located with a few miles of each other, into one school for grades pre-K through 4.

Currently, Coffman said rising maintenance costs for the separate, older schools at a time of decreasing student enrollment have severely limited available funds for academics in Ritchie County.

“You know, if would be like me and you trying to afford three or four cars, you just can’t do it,” Coffman said.

“It’s going to be much better in all ways for our students if they can get a new elementary school.”

The proposed new school site adjoins the current Ellenboro Elementary School which is already slated for closure and demolition.

The location off Rt. 50 has utility and road access and a citizen has donated an additional six acres of land for the project, Coffman said.

Additionally, bond passage on Tuesday could potentially lead to more than $6 million in separate construction funding from the state School Building Authority.

This bond vote is a 2nd attempt at passage in Ritchie County.

Last September, a $9.9 million bond was proposed which included the consolidated elementary school project along with funding for renovations to Ritchie County Middle High School.

In December, the SBA allocated $1.4 million for the middle and high school renovations which included security upgrades to the school entrance, exterior door replacements and the relocation of administrative offices.

Because of that, only the elementary school project remains on this bond call.

“Things are a lot different now. A lot’s happened since Sept. 9 when the bond failed 56 percent to 44 percent,” Coffman said.

“It’s a very, very important thing (this vote), not only for the students in Ritchie County, but for the future of Ritchie County as a whole.”

In all, Ritchie County has six public schools, if the middle school and high school are counted separately, with total student enrollment of around 1,450 students.

The other elementary school is Smithville Elementary School.

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