BUCKHANNON — Prior to the Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening, Upshur County Schools facilitated a public meeting regarding their vision of the future—a new high school and a reimagined middle school.
All members of the community were welcomed to ask questions, voice concerns, and provide suggestions to Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus and Ted Shriver, the leading forces behind the plan that may shape the future of children in Upshur County.
Dr. Stankus began, “What we’ve learned, especially during the pandemic, is that schools are not this organism that is a standalone. We are connected to everything in our culture and in our community. We are the center of those communities. We’re the place that Grandparent’s Day happens, and families connect, kids get fed. Grandparents and volunteers come and are engaged.”
Addressing the public with requests for stakeholder input, Dr. Stankus continued, “We feel like we’re just the messengers. The community, in the end, will make the decision what kind of school we want for Upshur County. The middle school, which will have a $6-9 million renovation, will look like a new building—our current high school.”
Ted Shriver, architect behind the project, explained that he and his team would be meeting with all entities to gather a better understanding on what building attributes would best serve local schools. In addition to teachers, they will also meet with the cooks, custodians, bus drivers, and others to receive input on all facets, ensuring the most efficient space for everyone. Shriver, who has been part of the construction of multiple state-of-the-art schools (i.e., Spring Mills HS, Mingo Central HS, Moorefield HS) explained that each project is different, depending on location and demographic needs.
BOE Accountant Sarah Wells ran several numbers to help the community understand the scope of the project. The proposed bond would be $49 million over 15 years. If the bond is approved locally, the School Building Authority is expected to provide an additional $21 million in funding—$70 million in total. Roughly $62 million will reportedly go towards the new high school, and $8 million will be used for the renovation of the current high school, to reconstruct the building into a modern middle school. Passing the bond would reportedly cost the average taxpayer $70/year, or $6/month.
Board member and Buckhannon-native, Dr. Greenbrier Almond stood in support of the bond. “I’m happy to see this project moving along. It’s time—it’s what our children need. If we want to have first-class jobs for our children, then we need to give them a first-class education,” he emphasized.
The next public meeting regarding this proposed project will take place on September 28 from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Hodgesville Elementary School.