The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 8, 2013

No Band-Aid

Going forward, money spent on Fayette schools should be in new facilities and equipment

— There are a lot of great things going on in Fayette County.

We have all witnessed reasons for hope, reviving an area that is rich in future opportunities.

But failing to invest in the county’s children by equipping and improving Fayette’s schools would hinder that potential growth.

It would cripple progress.

And it would be a terrible mistake.

There are few counties in West Virginia that offer the things that Fayette does — beautiful and exciting tourism options, safe communities in live in, and easy access to two of our state’s major cities — Charleston and Beckley.

Not to mention one of the nation’s “coolest” small towns — Fayetteville.

But the county’s schools are woefully inadequate for future generations. An underperforming education system will stymie economic growth as well.

There’s a consensus that something needs to be done. Coming up with a plan seems to be the next step. All options must be considered.

Not everyone will be pleased, especially when consolidating schools is a strong option. But a changing population base may dictate a necessary change.

Fayette County looks a lot different than it did three generations ago.

A recent Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) showed Fayette’s schools in grave disrepair.

An architect’s cost — a $136 million “Band-Aid” — to repair aging buildings is not a good idea. And just three months ago, it seemed many Fayette residents agreed.

It was on June 4 that by a 40 to 7 vote, a citizens’ committee recommended that the county not move forward with a bond proposal for repairing and maintaining all existing schools in the county. The committee was composed of three representatives from every school; they burst into applause when the vote was announced, according to a story published in the June 5 Register-Herald.

The rejection of that proposed bond is what sent Fayette County back to its current CEFP.

Going forward, any money put in Fayette schools should be used more wisely — in new facilities and equipment.

Others see the value in investing in Fayette County.

The Boy Scouts of America have invested here. They’ve shown their belief in our region in committing to hosting future National Jamborees and even a World Jamboree right here in our backyard.

The first Jambo held here this summer went off in spectacular fashion, hosting thousands of boys and girls from all over America and even other nations.

That’s a tremendous stamp of approval. And something to be proud of.

And proof that Fayette County is a desirable destination.

There may be no better, more meaningful investment than one in our children.

Equipping them the best way that we can is vital for their success.

We owe them our best effort.

It cannot be overstated, an area’s success starts with its schools.

Our hope is that success also doesn’t end the same way, by not supporting Fayette’s schools and students properly.