By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
Wyoming County Schools was awarded $1.25 million Monday, to assist with the cost of constructing a new Huff Consolidated Elementary and Middle School, by the West Virginia School Building Authority.
“That’s the $1.25 million that was cut from our request last year,” explained Frank Mann, assistant superintendent of Wyoming County Schools.
Wyoming County Schools was awarded $6.4 million by the state School Building Authority a year ago to build the new Huff Consolidated school, about $1.2 million less than the county requested.
The current facility has been flooded twice in the last three years and sits in the flood plain.
Frank Blackwell, county schools superintendent, termed the money “absolutely necessary to move this project forward successfully.”
Blackwell said the Huff Consolidated project is ready to go to bid and the new Pineville Elementary project is under construction.
“Over the last three years, these projects have cost us, out of the regular school budget, about $5 million,” Blackwell said. “We’ve explained that to the SBA members. We just can’t continue to pay the costs or we’ll be in deficit.”
As both schools have been flooded multiple times, Blackwell said building the new facilities is a health and safety issue.
“This gives us the funding to construct the new Huff Consolidated without such a strain on our county budget,” Mann said.
Mann lauded the SBA members and Dr. Mark Manchin for supporting the projects.
The new Huff Consolidated school will be built at Lizard Creek, out of harm’s way.
The 43,800 square foot facility will house pre-school through eighth graders and is designed for 336 students, though there are currently 265 students enrolled at the school, according to officials.
Construction on the new Pineville Elementary School is underway and sits on the former football field site adjacent to Pineville Middle School.
The project is just over a month behind schedule, but that could change if the weather holds, Blackwell said.
Wyoming County Schools was awarded just over $9 million from the West Virginia School Building Authority in 2011 to build the new elementary school to house Pineville students from pre-school through fourth grade.
That funding included $2 million in SBA emergency funding, because of past flooding damage to the current building, and another $7,397,248 in “needs” money.
The current Pineville Elementary building has been flooded three times since 2001.
Wyoming County was among several school systems across the state competing for part of the $42 million in school construction funding available from the SBA in March.