BOE explores proposal of building new high school

BUCKHANNON — During the Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening, Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus joined three team members from Williamson Shriver Architects to assess an opportunistic proposal for Upshur County Schools.

Local business leaders and stakeholders met during the 2020-2021 school year to compose a prioritized list of needs for the continued success of Upshur County Schools. After gathering the community’s feedback, the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) identified the top priorities: a new Comprehensive Career and Technical High School, and the renovation of the current Buckhannon-Upshur High School building to become the new location for Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.

Vanessa Perkins, active community member and public representative for the CEFP, introduced the idea to the Board. “I am reminded of how blessed we are to live in a country where our children are free to have opportunities to be educated. Today, I would like to address you to look beyond our current global news, and focus on our children’s future. Our children’s future is paved with bright and solid opportunities,” Perkins expressed, as she described how the BOE has been actively working on a vision for Upshur Schools over the past two years. “Ladies and gentlemen, the vision is huge, and it solely focuses on our children’s future. We have held several community forums and heard your concerns and your must-haves for your students. We’ve taken your vision and we’re ready to move forward. We’ve heard you loud and clear—you want a new school.”

In charge of Upshur’s CEFP are Ted Shriver, Greg Martin, and Jason Shantie, who are representatives of Williamson Shriver Architects. They attended the meeting to outline their detailed plan and approach to make the dream a reality. Their company has been designing schools since 1967 and is responsible for beautiful renovations of schools such as Moorefield High School, and the new Herbert Hoover High School. These individuals, along with Perkins and the BOE, will work alongside Upshur County School’s bond committee members to hear ideas and collect suggestions from parents, students, staff members, and members of the community as they develop the curriculum and design of the school.

In addition to a brand new, modernized building, the high-school’s proposed Comprehensive Career Technical Center (CCT) would provide unique learning opportunities and educational experiences, straying from traditional classroom learning. Dr. Stankus emphasized the fact that the new CCT would not compete with Fred Eberle Technical Center, but it would instead offer an entirely new range of courses and studies.

The Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School building was constructed in 1925, and despite several additions and renovations, still has many areas that do not comply with the American Disabilities Act, as well as current Building and Fire Codes. Moving the current middle school location and constructing a new high school would reportedly satisfy the main priorities of the CEFP. Several locations are being considered for the new high school facility, though the top choices are on the 182-acre property on which the B-UHS building currently resides.

Representatives of the CEFP have planned multiple meetings and public forums to discuss the proposal, and to collect feedback from the public. With enough support from members of the community, January 2022 is projected as the voting period for the project, giving locals a say on whether or not the plan moves forward.

Interested in expressing your opinion and hearing more? The following public forums will be held for questions, answers, and suggestions regarding the CEFP:

September 14 at 6 p.m. — Rock Cave Elementary

September 28 at 5 p.m. — Hodgesville Elementary

October 26 at 5 p.m. — Washington District Elementary


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