School Building Authority awards $75 million in school construction projects

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — School construction projects in seven counties have been chosen for funding by the state School Building Authority.

“Needs Grants” totaling just short of $75 million will go to projects planned in Mercer, Jefferson, Roane, Mineral, Ohio and Summers counties.

Dr. Richard Duncan

The projects were chosen from a list of projects in 30 counties totaling $248 million by SBA members Monday after hearing from SBA Director of Architectural Services Ben Ashley.

Roane County was awarded $13 million to build a new Spencer Middle School adjacent to Roane County High School. Superintendent Richard Duncan told MetroNews the county has been persistent in seeking the funding.

“This was our third try at SBA funding for this project and certainly we’re appreciative to the SBA for seeing this as a worthy project. The competition is extremely stiff and we’re just happy to have it,” Duncan said.

The current Spencer Middle School is currently housed in the old Spencer High School in downtown Spencer. Duncan said the new site will be safer.

“It used to be building a school in town with walk up access and community access was something that you wanted to do but the realities of safety and security that we have to go through today makes it really difficult to maintain a safe and secure campus,” Duncan said.

Debra Sullivan

McDowell County’s $18 million plans to close and consolidate Fall River, Kimball and Welch elementary schools into a new school to be built on 350 acres of property adjacent to Mount View High School fell just short of funding. It was next on the SBA list.

SBA member Debra Sullivan said she understood the decision but was disappointed for McDowell County because of the struggles students in that county already faces.

“They are vulnerable. They are truly vulnerable and new buildings help them see a different way life can be,” Sullivan said.

There’s a quick turnaround before the next funding cycle. Counties are expected to make their presentations in November with funding announced in December.

Meanwhile, county schools will be able to use federal funds they’ve received or will receive on some school needs. State Department of Education School Operations Officer Amy Willard told the SBA Monday school systems received a total of $300 million in one round and will get a total of $700 million in the most recent round of funding.

“It’s a little more broad with what they can do with those funds,” Willard said. “It talks about remediating environmental hazards. I think they can do roofs, window projects and door projects.”

Projects awarded for funding by the SBA Monday include:

Mercer County $9.6 million New PreK-5 school for Bluewell/Brushfork

Jefferson County $7.5 million New Shepherdstown Elementary, New Ransom Elementary

Roane County $13.9 million New Spencer Middle School

Greenbrier County $8 million Alderson Elementary relocation to Community Center

Mineral County $19.1 million New Frankfort Primary PK-4 school

Ohio County $18 million Renovations to six schools

Summers County $8.2 million Middle-High school additions/renovations

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