CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†Something that hasn’t happened in 10 years gets started Monday with the latest technology.

SBA

Ben Ashley

State law requires all 55 West Virginia county school districts to formulate a Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan (CEFP) every 10 years. The 18-month lead-in to the December 2020 deadline begins this week.

“They basically decide how they intend to use their facilities in the next 10 years,” state School Building Authority Director of Architectural Services Ben Ashley told MetroNews. “This is big picture planning. We’re asking for them to dream big and to think of big ideas for the delivering of education.”

The counties will hire architects and facilities planners to do an inventory of all of their existing buildings. The individual school boards will then take that information and marry it to the county’s education needs. It’s anticipated there will be public meetings as part of the process.

The SBA doesn’t want the counties to hold back, according to Ashley.

“The theme has been dream big. We’ve asked them to use the ideas from the educational forums, use input from all the different levels of communication and folks that they interact with in their districts. We want to take those ideas and translate those into facility needs and then create great well-rounded projects from that.”

The SBA is not going to end up with 55 three-ring binders full of CEFPs, instead, the SBA has teamed with the state Department of Education to hire contractors to create a statewide digital CEFP planning efforts. Ashley said all counties will be using data bases and resources on a cloud-based scenario. The site goes live Monday.

“We can do comparisons from county to county and school districts can compare schools,” Ashley said. “There’s a lot of intuitive information. The process is so much more involved for all of the decision makers. It’s really an exciting time for the counties.”

Ashley said efforts are underway to make the site public at some point in the future.

The SBA is urging counties to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education in their CEFPs.

“That’s become a major part of curriculum and that impacts square footage. We want to make sure our schools that we currently have meet those standards and as we plan new schools meet those standards as well,” Ashley said.

The deadline for CEFP completion is December 2020 and then the SBA will begin funding projects from the plans.

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