Education officials to seek SBA funds

PARKERSBURG – School officials are heading to Charleston this morning in the hope of securing more than $2.6 million in state money for school project needs.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law and board of education president Tim Yeater will give the West Virginia School Building Authority a 10-minute presentation outlining the need for funding. Wood County is one of several school systems seeking SBA funds.

Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, said officials are requesting more than $2.6 million from the SBA for the Edison Middle School Needs Project.

The funding would provide an enclosed security line walkway between the school’s existing buildings and reconfigure office space to create a secure entrance and link to the office. Woodward said the plan would also create three classrooms.

“We have seven teachers who float, moving their stuff from room to room on carts,” she said.

School officials have previously proposed the project to SBA officials, but Woodward said the retooled proposal has been cut down. It previously included the creation of five classrooms and fixing the library foundation. The foundation was fixed this summer by the school system – at a cost of $170,000.

“It will be one of our main summer projects,” Woodward said.

The SBA request also requires a 20 percent match from the school system to complete the nearly $3.3 million project.

Yeater said SBA officials are up front about the community’s commitment to schools. Wood County’s school bond is 80 percent funded.

Yeater said, “That is something that we look at very strongly: How much community input is being put into fixing facilities.”

Nine school systems have been making presentations to the SBA Monday and Tuesday, totaling more than $62 million. Director Mark Manchin said the SBA has about $42 million available for new projects.

In addition to Wood, school systems in Ritchie, Gilmer, Jackson, Wetzel and Mason counties are presenting requests to SBA officials. Funding decisions will be made next month.

Woodward thinks the project is tailor-made for the SBA’s program specs. With the emphasis on security, the county has a project that fits the SBA’s goals.

“We think we have a very strong case with the current and enhanced need for security,” she said. “It would be the perfect opportunity to test out any new materials, new doors, security glass.”