Fayette County Residents Fight to Pass School Bond
“I have promised my children that I will do everything in my power to fix this and I believe that we finally with this bond have a chance to do that.” -Shauna Starks
Fayette County parents like Shauna Starks spoke during the West Virginia Board of Education's April meeting in favor of the county's upcoming $66.5 million bond vote.
Starks, whose son is a fifth grader at Collins Middle School, sends her child every day to a school that was deemed "not suitable for occupancy" by a January report from the West Virginia Department of Education's Office of School Facilities. The review came after the roof of the band building on the school's campus collapsed under heavy snow.
Collins Middle, like so many others in Fayette County, is crumbling so parents and community leaders have banned together to hold community meetings across the county to discuss the bond in detail, explain what will come from its passage and drum up support.
“The total projects in this bond order, between local dollars, SBA and the bond itself, will total $66.5 million,” Fayette County Superintendent Serena Starcher said during the April WVBOE meeting.
The bond voters will be asked to approved is $38.9 million. That money will be used to build a new Mount Hope Elementary School for $12 million. The rest will be paired with state dollars.
Those state dollars, about $25 million of them, will come from the West Virginia School Building Authority, a state agency that doles out money for school building projects based on need. At least, that's what Starcher hopes.
“Although they can’t give me a guarantee right now, the SBA staff has indicated should the bond pass, they feel confident that we could go to the SBA next December and receive funding,” she said.
A bond, however, hasn't passed in Fayette County since the 1970s, but parents are hoping the community meetings make a difference this go round.
Terry Abbott of Adena Village attended the Valley High School meeting on April 13 and wasn't so sure about the results.
“How can I convince them to raise taxes and $60 million of that money is going to the other districts?” he asked of Starcher during that meeting.
Abbott said he supports the bond, he wants to see it pass, but he doesn't think the Valley district will get behind it. In the bond order, Valley High School would receive a new onsite combined football baseball field at a cost of $2.7 million from local funds.
"My opinion is Valley needs qualified, certified teachers more than we need a football field," Abbott said after the meeting. For him, consolidation means fewer classroom vacancies, something the entire state is struggling with so he'll vote in favor.
Fayette County will hold two more community meetings. Mount Hope Elementary Scholl will host a meeting Monday, April 20 at 6 p.m. Meadowbridge High School will host its meetings on April 27 at 6 p.m. and May 7 at 7p.m.
The school bond will be put to a vote on June 13.