Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY ; Kanawha, 14 Other Counties Get Funding

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY ; Kanawha, 14 Other Counties Get Funding

Article excerpt

The state School Building Authority's board voted Monday to finally approve funding renovations and additions to Kanawha County's Andrews Heights Elementary, among projects in 14 other counties - including Jackson, Logan, Monongalia and Raleigh - that the board supported. No nays were heard among the 11 members' voice vote to approve the projects, though the decision came after disagreements on which counties to fund. The board only denied all requested funding from five counties - Braxton, Fayette, Mason, Mercer and Ohio - out of the 20 that asked for assistance.

Tina Combs, a Berkeley County resident who is on both the state school board and SBA board, nominated Fayette's project for funding. Later during the meeting, she and State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano were the only SBA board members who voted against other members' successful motion to remove it from consideration.

Bill White, who's also a state school board member, and Robert Holroyd both voted against removing Mercer's proposal from consideration. Both, according to the SBA website, are from the county.

Unlike the other SBA board members, who only each nominated one county's project or none at all, Tom Lange, of Jefferson County, nominated what he called a "rural package of nine counties: Barbour, Calhoun, Doddridge, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Roane, Tucker, Webster and Wirt. They all got funded, despite most being in the bottom half of SBA staff rankings.

Kanawha - nominated by Chris Morris, of Kanawha - had requested funding for Andrews Heights for several years, but modified its proposal this time in a way that impressed SBA staff, who ranked the project No. 7 out of the 20 proposals.

"It's a lot more innovative than it has been in the past, for sure, said Scott Raines, the SBA's director of architectural services.

After hearing from SBA board members last month, Kanawha offered to pitch in $1.2 million in local funding instead of only $700,000, dropping its SBA request from $2.2 million to $1.8 million.

The project will remove the four mold-infested trailer classrooms at Andrews Heights and add a large innovative room with different zones for activities like reading and science experiments in which four teachers will jointly instruct fourth and fifth graders. It will also provide a larger kitchen area, a room for art and music, a teacher work room, a speech room and a conference room, and other renovations.

"We had some SBA members go out and look at it, Kanawha Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said. "I think we increased the funding a little bit at their request, and I think in the visit they really saw the need.

He said he didn't know when the Andrews Heights project will be complete.

The approved projects total over $50 million worth of funding from this year's annual "needs grant cycle, and $10 million from next school year's cycle for Raleigh only. …

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