Ashton Marra Published

State School Board Says Fayette County is 'Priority' for Funding


The West Virginia Board of Education is asking the state School Building Authority to put Fayette County at the front of line during its next round of financial awards. 

Board  members voted 6 to 2 in a meeting Tuesday approving a resolution that asks Fayette County be considered a priority for additional funding from the West Virginia School Building Authority.

Because of condemned buildings, hundreds of middle school students in the county have been displaced. Others attend schools with leaking roofs and furnaces that burn coal to provide heat.

Fayette County is asking the SBA for a little more than $56 million over three years to help build a new consolidated high school and make renovations to other facilities, among other things. 

“I think that by attaching priority status to Fayette County as an intervention county, I think it does give us a favorable opportunity to be funded,” Terry George, the county superintendent, said after the vote Tuesday.

SBA awards, however, are dependent upon matching dollars provided at the local level. Fayette County voters shot down a school bond this year that would have provided those matching funds.

The 2015 bond was the third to fail in the county since 2001.

Still, George said Tuesday the county can provide $17 million over the three year funding period, $6 million in cash and $11 million in a lease-purchase agreement.

The agreement is a long term, 15 year loan for equipment that would be installed in the new high school, including the heating and cooling system and appliances for the cafeteria.

Members of the SBA previously voted against allowing Fayette County to propose a funding plan to the board, but reconsidered their vote in November. That allowed Superintendent George to present his proposal, but did not guarantee funding.

The SBA will meet Monday to vote on proposed funding projects. The board has received proposals totaling more than $200 million and has about $50 million to award for improvement projects.

Fayette is the only county fully under the control of the state of West Virginia. The state school board took over in 2010 after it declared a state of emergency in the county.