The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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September 25, 2013

Chief: SBA would support cross-county transfers


CHARLESTON — The executive director of the state School Building Authority says his agency would support the idea of a transfer that crosses county lines for the students of Meadow Bridge High School.

“I’ve reviewed the entire project and given the close proximity of Meadow Bridge to Greenbrier West and the amount of money that we have spent in Greenbrier County to upgrade Greenbrier West, we should look at that,” Dr. Mark Manchin said Tuesday.

“That is one of the solutions that the School Building Authority can be supportive of.”

If nothing else works, Manchin says this solution is one of the better ones.

“I’ve spoken to the superintendent of Greenbrier County,” he said. “She would be willing to sign a memorandum of how the transfer would work. There’s a lot that would have to be worked out, but I think that is a viable solution.”

While he understands small communities passions for their schools, Manchin says Fayette County will have to start asking itself the important questions.

“The people of Meadow Bridge want to keep their school. I understand that and I respect that,” he said. “The question will eventually have to be answered of ‘how can these small communities continue to keep that school open?’ We’re eventually going to have to address the number of high schools that they have in Fayette County. That decision will have to be made by the state board of education.

“We have to ask “how can the scarce resources of Fayette County be allocated, not only to that school, but to the other schools and provide them with good, 21st century education?”

Manchin added. “The answer to that question is that I don’t see how, with the dwindling population, that the citizens of Fayette County can continue to support the number of high schools that they have right now.”

Manchin says he doesn’t think it’s sensible to try to look at Meadow Bridge by itself though.

“I think that there has to be a real review,” he said. “Meadow Bridge doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists in conjunction with all of the other schools and what is required of Fayette County to support those schools.”

The West Virginia State Board of Education recently asked Fayette County Superintendent Keith Butcher to conduct a study about how to best serve the needs of the students at Meadow Bridge High School.

The State Board of Education will vote in October to decide if Meadow Bridge should be removed from Fayette County’s consolidation plans for a year.

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