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School district resubmits its STEM request to the SBA

MORGANTOWN — Looking for the perfect Christmas for the school superintendent who has everything?

You can’t go wrong with a check containing a figure and a kite tail of zeros, said Eddie Campbell Jr., who heads Monongalia County’s school district.

Campbell is hoping the state School Building Authority plays Santa next month for Mon.

The entity in Charleston that doles out dollars for education infrastructure will say yea or nay Dec. 13 to his $1.6 million request to help fund a major expansion to the county Technical Education Center.

Campbell wants to tack three additional classrooms, bringing more than 7,500 additional square feet to the facility on Mississippi Street.

Not just any classrooms, however.

Dancing in his head are visions of three gleaming learning lab spaces for the enhanced study of robotics, pre-engineering and e-gaming.

He sees bright, spacious work areas, brimming with the latest high-tech equipment (ideally provided by hosts or participating sponsors) to make it all happen.

If it all sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The district submitted the same plan last spring and was denied.

“Our priorities haven’t changed,” he said. “That’s what the SBA advises districts to do: Stay with the priority project.”

Immediate pandemic considerations aside, the priority in Mon Schools right now is STEM – the academic and hands-on studies of science, technology, engineering and math.

That addition to the technical center would be the opening act to a stand-alone high school devoted exclusively to STEM, as stipulated in the district’s updated Comprehensive Facilities Plan, which steers development projects through 2030.

The once-and-future retrofitted facility on Mississippi Street would do the same for Mon’s middle-schoolers.

Meanwhile, 26 county school systems across West Virginia are requesting close to $166 million in projects, ranging from the construction of a new Buckhannon-Upshur High in Upshur County to replacement of the Grafton High roof in Taylor County.

“We always knew we were going to circle back around and resubmit,” Campbell said.

“So we’ll see what happens.”

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