Public hearing on 10-year school facilities plan set for October 20

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board will hold a public hearing on their 10-year Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) on Tuesday, October 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the school board office before their regularly scheduled meeting that begins at 6:00 p.m. that evening.

There is also a link provided to attend the public hearing and meeting virtually via ZOOM.   Virtual attendees must identify themselves by their first and last name and sign up for public comment fifteen minutes beforehand.

The Morgan County Schools Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan for the years 2020 through 2030 can be seen on the county school website at https://www.morganschools.net/.

Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said in an email that their architect will be doing a presentation on the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan at the public hearing. The meeting will then be open for public comments.

About the plan

The CEFP plan will guide the school board in its decisions over the next 10 years.   A county-wide maintenance plan will aim to reduce costs, improve services and be greener and more energy-saving, according to the document.

The Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan includes overall goals and objectives, grade configurations, school enrollment history and future enrollment estimates, population statistics and projections, current school facility conditions, median income and property values and   community services.

It also addresses curriculum and instructional delivery plans, personnel plans, needed additional technology infrastructure, school capacity, community expectations and planned improvements to each of the seven county schools.

All schools open

Berkeley Springs High School, Warm Springs Middle School, Warm Springs Intermediate School, Widmyer Elementary, Pleasant View Elementary, Paw Paw High School and Paw Paw Elementary are all projected to remain open for the next 10 years unless student enrollment or financial conditions warrant changes.

“Given adequate financial resources, the Morgan County Board of Education will continue to operate all existing schools unless student population warrants reconfiguration or school closure consideration,” school officials said in the CEPF plan.

“Factors such as geographical barriers, distance of travel, facility type and condition, enrollment projections, class sizes, staffing needs and financial resources aid in determining the facilities and locations that will continue to operate,” they added.

These factors will be reviewed annually and attendance zones will be adjusted as necessary.

Population, other

The county population in 2017 was listed as 17,686, up 1.45%.  In 2013, it was 17,393. Population estimates projected that the number of residents would decrease to 17,416 by 2035.  The CEFP report said that Morgan County residents are getting older with fewer people moving into the county.

Community make-up information also included median income, birth and death rates, home values, unemployment rates, employment opportunities, school enrollment rates and school drop-out rates.

Planned improvements

The Morgan County School Board plans a total of $16,657,285 in school improvements over the next 10 years under the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.

That includes $13,467,376 in improvements to its facilities in the Berkeley Springs attendance area and $2,818,208 in facilities improvements to its facilities in the Paw Paw attendance area.

Every one of the county’s six public schools has improvements scheduled.

Needed school building improvements include roof repair/replacement, heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement,  parking lot lighting,  electrical upgrades, ceiling work and health and safety renovations.

Funding for the school improvement projects would come from excess levy money, local funds and West Virginia School Building Authority NEEDS and MIP grants.   The projects would bring school buildings into West Virginia Department of Education, School Building Authority and West Virginia state code and standards compliance.

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