PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Construction can begin on three new elementary schools in Wood County now that voters have passed a $68.85 million school bond issue.
The bond was approved by just 60 votes in Tuesday’s Primary Election.
Michael Erb, communications coordinator for Wood County Schools, told MetroNews it was a close call.
“Most of the evening we were down about 100 votes, so it was a surprise to us when the final five precincts updates and we just crossed that line,” Erb said.
The main part of the funding will go toward constructing three new elementary schools.
Neale and Vienna Elementary schools will close, meaning students from those schools will transfer to one of the new elementary schools. Criss and Emerson Elementary schools will also shutdown. Those students will go to the other new school. The bond also calls for the construction of a new Lubeck Elementary School.
Erb said plans are already in place at Vienna Elementary.
“We already have a piece of property that we own, so that project will probably be the first one that people see physically starting. The other two schools we’re going to need to go through the process of finding and purchasing property,” he said.
Construction will begin immediately, Erb said, adding the school district will need to hire a company to oversee the projects.
In addition to the three new schools, the bond will also be used for safety improvements as well as renovations to athletic facilities and auditoriums at the county’s three high schools.
The bond issue comes in response to aging school facilities including some that are close to 100 years old.
Erb said this will improve learning environments for students and teachers significantly.
“About 84 percent of the total bond project will have a direct impact on classrooms,” he said.
The state School Building Authority has already awarded Wood County Schools $21 million, bringing the total cost of the project to more than $80 million.