School Building Authority awards handful of districts Needs Grant funding for projects

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Seven school districts in West Virginia will receive Needs Grants funding from the state School Building Authority (SBA) in the next year.

The SBA awarded Lincoln, Kanawha, Cabell, McDowell, and Taylor counties for new projects and Hampshire and Mineral for ongoing projects during its quarterly meeting Monday.

Lincoln County Schools asked the SBA in November for $24.7 million in Needs Grants funding to help build a new Duval Area PK-8 School. The school system will receive $14.7 million of it in the upcoming year and the other $10 million in FY 2023.

The project is to be joined with $3 million in local funds.

Jeff Kelley

“We’re very pleased with the result and now we start the next phase,” Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Jeff Kelley told MetroNews.

Under the approved plan, the existing Midway Elementary School would close and all PK-8 students from Duval PK-8 and Midway Elementary School will attend the new facility.

MetroNews reported during presentations in November that hundreds of students would be impacted by the change.

The Duval school has been closed due to structural issues that include HVAC equipment, roofing and mold. The West Virginia Board of Education approved school closure in November. Students from Duval have been reassigned to other locations in July 2021.

“The structural issues were so significant that we were concerned with the safety of our students and staff,” Kelley said.

“Moving forward, we want to get a high-quality instructional facility built so we can have somewhere to go.”

The state’s largest school district, Kanawha County Schools, is receiving $8.5 million for major renovations to Cedar Grove Elementary School. The project is being matched with $3.2 million in local funds.

Upon completion of this project, the middle school portion of the Cedar Grove facility will close, and middle school students will attend Dupont Middle School.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams
Tom Williams

Tom Williams, Kanawha County Schools Superintendent told MetroNews it’s important to try and remain in the small communities like Cedar Grove.

“In a lot of these communities, the school is the center of their town. We hate to take away but sometimes we have to,” Williams said.

“In this case, we are able to complete the elementary part and have a completely renovated building for the kids.”

Cabell County Schools is receiving $10 million for a new Meadows Elementary School. The funds are to be joined with $7 million in local money.

Upon the completion of this project, the existing Meadows Elementary School will be demolished, and students will attend the new facility.

McDowell County Schools’ project of a new consolidated elementary school for the Fall River, Kimball, and Welch areas was given the green light with the funding award.

The school district is receiving $15 million in Needs Grant funding to go along with $3.6 million in local money.

Upon completion of this project, Fall River Elementary, Kimball Elementary, and Welch Elementary School facilities will close, and students will attend this new school, the SBA stated.

Taylor County Schools award was $820,200 for a roof replacement to Grafton High School. There will be over $360,000 in local funding.

Wayne County Schools was the first school district that missed out on funding with a SBA Staff Score of 69, one point away from Kanawha County Schools and two away from Cabell County Schools.

Wayne’s project was ahead of Cabell and Kanawha in the spring but Ben Ashley, the Director of Architectural Services for the SBA said it came down to funding costs and changes to the projects.

“Because Cabell’s request was half the cost of Wayne County’s, that’s why it jumped above the red line. We were able to fund it in this scenario,” Ashley said.

“If we funded Wayne, we would have to knock off another project or come up with something different because we would expect more money than what we have.”

SBA executive director David Roach announced during the meeting that Ashley was stepping down from his position at the end of the year.

“I’ve set everything up to where I think things are great. We have a nice template of processes we do,” Ashley told MetroNews.

“I hate to leave, I will miss everyone. I am going to chase some other dreams that I have.”

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