BUCKHANNON – The state School Building Authority met on June 17 and selected four multi-county vocational centers in West Virginia as recipients of just over $1 million through the Three Percent Statewide Grant program.
The exciting, local news?
The Fred W. Eberle Technical Center was one of those four, receiving $422,622 for sidewalks, ramp replacement and drainage system repairs.
A Three Percent Statewide Grant is a grant in which 3% of the total funds distributable are set aside to address projects that are regional or statewide in scope. Their website said the projects are submitted to the state School Building Authority and with the cooperation of the State Board of Education are recommended to the School Building Authority for potential funding.
Fred Eberle Technical Center Director Rebecca Bowers-Call said every year, as a multi-county center that serves Upshur, Lewis and Barbour counties, the school has the opportunity to apply for the Three Percent Statewide Grants.
“That money is set aside through the SBA just for multi-county centers,” Bowers-Call said. “We work with our architect, currently Williamson Shriver, and they write the grants for us. The Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan is what drives the request for the grant. The plan is now more than 10 years old, and the grant requests follow that plan.”
Since 2009, the Fred Eberle Technical Center has received a grant for repairs to the facility 10 of the 11 years they’ve applied.
“This grant will complete the last repairs in that plan,” Bowers-Call said. “We, as a county, are getting ready to complete a new CEFP (Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan) that is due in 2020. This current grant is one we worked with Williamson Shriver on to request the upgrades. With that money, we are also going to replace our fire alarm system, because we have some issues with it, so we know it is working how we need it to work on a daily basis.”
She said that Fred Eberle is a much-needed facility in the Upshur County Schools system.
“We get calls daily during the regular school year and weekly during the summer looking for students to go to work straight out of our programs,” Bowers-Call said. “There are so many needs for technical occupations – diesel mechanics, automotive mechanics – they can’t find people who are willing to work.”
She said she is not, by any means, detracting from the aspirations of students who opt to attend college.
“It’s not for everyone. Our high school students and adult students can come to the center and be certified and go straight into the workforce making $15 to $50 per hour, depending on what program they choose. Overall, on an average, we have an 85% placement rate for our students going out into the workforce.”
Bowers-Call said their school council has been working over the last couple of years to see what, if any, new classes should be offered at Fred Eberle Technical Center.
“We know there is a need for masonry and HVAC technicians,” she said. “We want to research where the most student interest is and what types of programs we could actually fill. We want to offer what is needed, but also want to offer what students want, but are still in the preliminary stages of discovering this.”
Classes that are currently offered through Fred Eberle Technical Center include, for high school students and adults: automotive mechanics and technology; electricity; construction; collision repair; cosmetology; diesel technology; welding; CNA and phlebotomy; and Cisco networking and computer repair.
For adults, there is the LPN Program and the CDL trucking program.
She said Fred Eberle Technical Center was the first multi-county center constructed in the state of West Virginia.
“We were built in 1968, so you can tell, there are things we need to maintain to keep up with the building,” Bowers-Call said. “We need to keep things moving in the direction industry is moving. For the School Building Authority to award us these Three Percent Statewide Grants to keep the building as close as we need to be to code – and to keep the students safe, which is our focus all the time – is great. We wouldn’t be able to continue without them.”
She said the State Department of Education supplies grants for equipment.
“But if we can’t keep the buildings running efficiently and safely, we wouldn’t be able to use that equipment we can get through the state. The Three Percent Statewide Grants are invaluable – I couldn’t place a value on it,” Bowers-Call said.
The other three schools being funded through those grants in this cycle include Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center for $132,782, Roane-Jackson Technical Center for $464,162 and Mid-Ohio Valley Technical Institute for $55,808 for a total of $1,075,374.