FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The approval this week by the state School Building Authority to allocate another $1 million to the Fayette County school system will allow the system to stay on track to open several new schools beginning in August 2019.
Specially, the money will pay for the construction of six new classrooms at what is now Fayetteville High School to convert that school into a PreK-8 school. Getting that project done in the next 14 months will allow for the completion of the first of three phases of a total facilities makeover in Fayette County, school superintendent Terry George said.
“Our students will open in all of our newly reconfigured schools in the fall of 2019,” George said Tuesday. “We still have some additional work to do in those schools but they will be ready by the fall of 2019.”
The new projects being built on the 100 plus acres at Oak Hill High School include New River PK-2, New River Intermediate and a new Collins Middle School. George said the Oak Hill property will become a comprehensive educational complex.
“We’ll have two elementary schools on that campus, we’ll have a middle school on that campus, we’ll have a high school on that campus plus we’ll have a career tech center on that campus,” George said. “So on any given day there’ll be anywhere from 3,000 to 3,200 kids on that campus.”
The fall of 2019 will also bring changes to students at Valley High School in Smithers. Students will have a choice to attend either Oak Hill High or Midland Trail High in Fayette County or Riverside High School in Kanawha County.
The plan reduces the number of schools from 18 to 11 over a two-year period.
Phase-2 of the Fayette County facilities plan includes renovation work at what will be Valley PreK-8, updated science labs, an updated auditorium and a new physical education classroom for Oak Hill High School along with renovation work at schools in Fayetteville and Midland Trail.
Phase-3 will include a new PreK-12 school for Meadow Bridge, a project that probably won’t happen until 2021, George said.
Fayette County is doing all of this work without a school bond issue. The system is getting money from the SBA and has taken out an $11 million loan on the local level. George said the system plans to take one of its phase-2 projects to the SBA this fall when the authority considers needs-based funding.
“We will continue to take projects to the SBA to get additional funding but we plan to do so by taking local money and matching some of those awards,” George said.
The state Board of Education seized control of the Fayette County system in 2010 after a performance audit showed numerous problems with personnel, policies and maintenance. The board voted last year to return the system to local control.