BUCKHANNON – Upshur County voters will have one final chance to go to the polls and cast their votes regarding the Upshur County School bond levy on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and voters can find more information about the special election on the Upshur County Clerk’s homepage here.
The ballot only includes one item to vote upon: the bond levy. If passed, the bond levy would help pay for constructing a new comprehensive career technical high school and provide funding for renovations to transform the current high school into a reimagined middle school.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $70 million, and the bond would provide for around $49.4 million. The School Building Authority has indicated it would likely award one-third of the needed funding, or about $21 million, pending passage of the bond.
During a public meeting held Tuesday at Tennerton Elementary School prior to the regular meeting of the Upshur County Board of Education, attendees questioned where the funding would come for some of the career and technical programs at the high school and asked about the opportunities for students to complete college classes while still in high school.
Upshur County Schools Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins said Upshur County Schools has been approached by several businesses in the Buckhannon area and across the state who are interested in helping with some of the CTE programs at the new high school.
“The programs we are looking at – but are not limited to – include aviation maintenance, the medical field, HVAC/electrical, hospitality, drone operations, computer networking, food service, logistics and alternative center energy excellence,” Perkins said. “We have been approached by companies that are local and located throughout the state to participate in this educational opportunity. Some of our vendors are in need of employees, and they have come to us and said they would be glad to provide the training aid and the subject matter experts to teach the class.”
Perkins said for instance in logistics, there would be training in warehousing, forklift operations and everything that would be required to be a logistician.
“In return, they would have qualified applicants for jobs they have,” Perkins said. “Now, those applicants may go to other places, but there will be a pool here in Upshur County for the employers who need someone with those skills.”
Perkins said those who have been in touch with the schools include aviation maintenance, medical, logistics and solar energy companies.
“Students completing these courses would be credentialed and would be able to come out and go to work,” he said.
Also, during the public meeting prior to the BOE meeting, Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said they were already working with colleges to put into place programs for students.
“Just today, we signed up with the West Virginia State Department of Education to pilot a program where students in our community who want to become teachers – and we need good teachers – would finish their first year of college during their junior and senior year at Buckhannon-Upshur High School,” Stankus said. “Then, the student would go to a college for years two and three. Finally, they would come back to Upshur County for their fourth year, and we would pay them as a teacher-in-residence in our school.”
Stankus said it would save students and their families from paying for two years of college which amounts to approximately $22,000 to $23,000. Stankus noted the first year of college would be free and during the last year, the student would be getting paid to work as a teacher.
“There are some really amazing opportunities that are happening,” Stankus shared.