Upshur BOE votes to consider purchasing options for 9-acre property near B-UHS

BUCKHANNON – Will the Upshur County Board of Education opt to purchase 9 acres of land located near Buckhannon-Upshur High School from New Community Church?

Although the final answer to that question has not yet been determined, board members on Tuesday voted to proceed with further considering the possibility.

The BOE had a special meeting Tuesday to discuss two topics – possible action regarding the purchase of property on Route 20 beside Buckhannon-Upshur High School and a discussion of Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus’ contract.

Both items took the BOE into executive sessions, and no action took place regarding the superintendent’s contract.

However, all BOE members were present for the special session and voted unanimously to begin looking into purchasing a property from the New Community Church, who are the owners of the property.

The property is 9 acres and is adjacent to the Hockenberry Farm property the BOE owns at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples said the board is toying with the idea of purchasing the property but is not yet ready to make a final decision.

“We are talking to them or negotiating with them about an option for purchase,” Samples said.

“We are trying to be fiscally responsible,” BOE Vice president Katie Loudin added. “We need to make sure we have our ducks in a row financially.”

Samples said the property across from the barn on Route 20 could possibly be utilized for the site of a new school.

“We are going to have to build a school in the next few years because the middle school is deteriorating,” Samples said. “So, that property could be used … there has been conversation about moving the bus garage there. There has been conversation of expanding with a high tunnel for the Vo-ag programs. It’s just because it is adjacent that we are looking at those options – those are things that have been discussed in the past.”

BOE member Alan Suder said when the BOE purchased the Hockenberry Farm they intended to build a school.

“When we ran the school bond, and it was defeated, the first step was to secure property,” he said. “We secured the Hockenberry Farm, and unfortunately, the school bond was defeated. We were not able to financially move forward, but we have a really nice plan from Williamson Shriver (architecture firm in Charleston).

“We are continuing to look at our 10-year plan, and I would like to pursue our options.”

The Hockenberry Farm, adjacent to the high school, is comprised of 116 acres and was purchased in 2010.

“There are lots of possibilities,” Samples said.

Stankus said the board is beginning to work on their Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan, or CEFP, for 10 years.

“Now we will be asking our community stakeholders to give input about what they want for their schools in the plan for the next 10 years for this community,” Stankus said. “We will begin to have public meetings and we look forward to hearing from those folks.”

Samples said the board will be accepting input about whether Upshur County Schools should build a middle school or high school.

“There is some conversation about whether we build a middle school, or we build a high school and move the middle school to the high school,” Samples said. “So, when the middle school came up for the bond, a piece the public didn’t particularly like was moving the fifth-grade to the middle school.”

The next meeting of the Upshur County BOE is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at the Fred Eberle Technical Center.

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