Jackson County unveils new Kenna school

KENNA – The newly completed Kenna Elementary School opened its doors to the public Tuesday, giving officials and community members their first look at the school which will open classes this fall.

Jackson County Superintendent Blaine Hess, School Building Authority Executive Director Mark Manchin and several other special guests were on hand Tuesday morning for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the new facility. The new school is located at 275 Business Park Drive near Dudden Fork Road.

“We had a great number of people in attendance,” Hess said. “We also held an open house for the public that evening. We probably had about 600-700 people tour the school. Though it won’t officially open until this fall, the building was far enough along we wanted to give people the chance to come in so they could see what their tax dollars were supporting.”

Hess said when the school opens in August it will have an enrollment of about 360 students in grades pre-k through fifth. The school is being equipped with “the latest security measures” and will be “wired to meet the technology needs of our students,” with the entire school being wireless-capable, he said.

The school also has two playgrounds, one for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students and another for grades 1-5. A community group called The Friends of Kenna has been raising thousands of dollars for additional outdoor learning areas and other needs, such as a public walking track.

Hess said within the next few weeks officials will begin the process of relocating everything from the old Kenna Elementary, which has been in operation for more than 53 years, to the new facility. Hess said the new Kenna Elementary is “the first new school in Jackson County in at least 40 years.”

The School Building Authority of West Virginia awarded the Jackson County Board of Education $8.7 million toward the nearly $12 million project. Hess said school district officials opted to not pursue a bond issue to build the new school, but set aside local funds for construction over the years.

“We tightened our budget and saved money where we could in order to pay for the school without going to the public for a bond issue,” he said.