Upshur County Schools Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins tells those attending Tuesday’s public informational meeting that it was expected the $21 million funding from the School Building Authority of West Virginia would be rejected during this round of funding because the bond call election has not taken place to secure the additional $49 million in funding. Perkins said the project is supported by the SBA members and should be the top project funded in Fall 2022 if Upshur County residents pass the school bond on Jan. 15, 2022. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Upshur Schools officials address Dec. 13 School Building Authority rejection

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Schools officials presented the final public informational meeting regarding their ‘Vision for the Future’ ahead of the bond levy election which is now less than one month away – Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.

The bond levy election, if passed, will allow for the issuance of $49 million in bonds to help cover the cost of construction of a new comprehensive career and technical high school (estimated to cost approximately $62 million) and a renovated and reimagined middle school which will cost approximately $7 to $9 million. The total project cost has been estimated at approximately $70 million and would also rely on SBA funds in the amount of $21 million.

The School Building Authority of West Virginia met Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, and announced that it would be funding five school construction, consolidation and renovation projects and many Upshur County residents were confused when on the list of projects, the $21 million for Upshur County’s ‘Vision for the Future’ was listed as being rejected.

However, Upshur County Schools representatives said the rejection this time around was expected because the funds cannot be officially committed by the SBA until Upshur County residents take to the polls and approve the school bond funding on Jan. 15, 2022.

Before Tuesday’s public information meeting, Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said the West Virginia School Building Authority was very optimistic with Upshur County School officials regarding their proposed project.

“They are looking forward to us passing our upcoming bond so they can give us the $21 million,” Stankus said. “We had some of their board members approach us and tell us how excited they were about the Upshur County project. We have to pass our bond first and then they will give us the money ($21 million).”

Stankus said the next time the SBA will be meeting is in the fall of 2022.

“The SBA would not have lent their name to the Upshur County Schools Bond Ballot unless they had committed to us,” Stankus explained. “They are absolutely on board and are excited about our upcoming project.”

Upshur County Schools Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins told those gathered at Tuesday’s informational forum that he was part of the group that attended Monday’s School Building Authority Awards Presentation.

“As expected, we were not awarded the $21 million on Monday,” Perkins said. “It was exciting, however, because we were the first project below the line of those awarded.”

Perkins went on to explain that when the SBA does their scoring system, the Upshur County Schools proposed project was top in every category except for the last one.

“The last one was that we have our funding in place,” Perkins said. “Since our bond is not yet passed, we received zero out of 10. If we had already passed our bond, we would have been the top project this year, had our bond already been in place. Our bond election is scheduled for January and that will put us at the top of the list for the projects the SBA looks at in Fall 2022 as expected.”

Perkins said he realizes there are some ‘social media posts’ that emphasize the fact Upshur County Schools was not awarded the $21 million in this round of funding.

“We did not expect to be awarded (the $21 million) because we are not at the point to be awarded until our bond is passed,” Perkins said. “We were top line until the scoring for funding in place and we received a zero on that because our funding was not in place. If our funding had been in place, we would have been funded this year.”

Perkins said in talking with members of the SBA, that they are very excited about the project.

“As soon as our funding is in place (if the bond is passed) we will move to the top of the list,” Perkins said. “This time next year, we will be awarded the $21 million as they have expressed in their support for our bond.”

Stankus said during the process to come up with the plan for the new comprehensive technical and career high school and renovated and reimagined middle school, Upshur County School administrators and the Upshur County BOE members were “merely messengers” delivering on what members of businesses, industry, parents, governmental officials, residents, civic organizations, students and community stakeholders were requesting through the CEFP or Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan – something every county in West Virginia must complete every 10 years.

Some of the perks of the new and reimagined schools is that students would have the ability to complete a two-year associate degree upon graduation, and students could be able to have vocational programs and certifications which would allow them to enter the workforce straight out of school. Another highlight is that middle-schoolers would be able to get a taste of CTE programs earlier in their educational career.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!