Mon BOE on schedule with school improvements

MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County Schools chief Eddie Campbell Jr. gave high marks to the district’s Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan on Monday night — even if the document he handed out was covered in red.

The passages highlighted in that hue showcased work already completed in the current CEFP.

That plan, which was updated in 2010, will come due two years from now, as mandated by the state Department of Education.

As a rule, CEFP is a 10-year set of benchmarks that must be submitted to Charleston and the state School Building Authority before any construction or renovation projects can begin.

The authority doles out dollars for such projects.

Eastwood Elementary School, a green school on the Mileground, was part of Mon’s current facilities plan.

So was the conversion of the former University High School on Price Street, which is now the home of Mountaineer Middle.

Campbell presented a capsule of work already complete during a BOE work session.

“You guys are 80 percent done on this thing,” said the superintendent, who was hired in June after teaching and administrative posts in Shanghai, China, and Tucker County.

Projecting out isn’t as easy as it looks, BOE member Mike Kelly said — particularly in a county such as Monongalia, which is seeing population growth, compared to the rest of the state.

A new subdivision in the county, for example, he said, could mean a sudden waiting list for pre-kindergarten at the nearest school.

Campbell said the county here is lucky, in that most of its buildings are new, or relatively new.

That’s because asking the authority for money isn’t as easy as it looks, either.

There are lots of stipulations, he said.

If you want a bank of classrooms, you can ask, he said.

A whole new building? By all means, make the request.

But a new roof? Don’t ask.

“Why is that?” new board member Sara Anderson wanted to know.

“That’s considered ‘maintenance,’ ” answered BOE president Ron Lytle, who is also a local contractor.

In the coming months, Campbell said the county district will petition the authority for help for an ongoing heating and air conditioning project at Suncrest Middle School.

Same for Ridgedale Elementary, which needs new classrooms to accommodate that growth Kelly talked out earlier.

Charleston architect Ted Shriver, who designed Eastwood Elementary and has worked on several other projects in the county, was also there to talk about his work with the current incarnation of Mon’s CEFP.

In 2010, for example, he said, gun violence in schools across the U.S. wasn’t the issue it is today.

That’s why ongoing work on the entryway at Morgantown High School includes additional security measures, such as bullet-proof glass.

“It’s a shame we have to do it,” he said, “but we have to keep people safe.”

Campbell said work on the 2020-’30 CEFP will start in earnest after Christmas break.

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