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BOE holds first talk on buildings plan

January 3, 2019

HUNTINGTON — The Cabell County Board of Education discussed the first steps to updating its Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan during its regular meeting Wednesday in Huntington.

The CEFP is a nonbinding assessment of all the facilities in the district’s possession and is meant to serve as a road map for district officials in terms of managing its buildings. The plan is updated every 10 years — last set in 2010 — meaning the current board will take up the matter through 2019.

No matter pertaining to the plan was up for a vote Wednesday as it remains in the early discussion phase. The updated CEFP through 2030 must be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Education by March 2020.

At the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Ryan Saxe pitched the option of hiring outside consulting services for the planning process, which he said could explore multiple planning options for the county in the years to come.

Saxe added that the 2020-30 plan will likely have a different focus than its predecessor, written in 2010.

At that time, Cabell County Schools owned 28 schools and was exploring plans to downsize to 22 schools by selling properties that are vacant as well as closing some older schools and consolidating them into new facilities or existing schools.

The original 2010 CEFP outlined the closure of Davis Creek and Hite-Saunders elementary schools and consolidation of their student bodies into a newly constructed facility. That objective was later amended to close only Davis Creek, merge it with Martha Elementary School and use the bond surplus to add classrooms and other learning space to Martha Elementary.

The closure and consolidation of Nichols and Ona elementary schools into a new facility was also recommended in the original CEFP, as well as the closure and disbursal of students from Meadows Elementary.

However, the board voted in March 2018 to spare Nichols, Meadows, Hite-Saunders, Ona and Davis Creek from considerations for closure for the 2010-20 CEFP. The matter will likely be discussed again when planning the coming 2020-30 plan.

Saxe has stated his opposition to consolidation at the elementary school level and has advocated for the small community school model. Saxe told the board at the March vote that the county can properly maintain and update the older facilities for the foreseeable future.

Instead, Saxe noted the coming CEFP may focus more on rezoning school districts to shift some student populations from more crowded schools to adjacent schools with less students. The plan will also explore how the district’s current school buildings will be able to keep up with the educational technology of the coming years.

In voting business, the board approved a change order for the ongoing construction at Davis Creek Elementary School. The $1,948 project will allot for an additional sidewalk trench drain on the property to be completed by C.J. Hughes Construction Co. The project will be paid for through the county’s Permanent Improvement fund.

The board also approved an interagency agreement with Valley Health Systems to provide hands-on learning for students at Cabell Midland and Huntington high schools.

Health science students would be allowed to observe and earn clinical training at the Huntington-based medical network. The board has entered into similar interagency agreements with at least a dozen other local health care businesses.

Wednesday’s meeting was the postponement of the board’s regular meeting Tuesday in observance of New Year’s Day. The board next meets Jan. 15. Meetings are always open to the public.

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