The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

January 31, 2014

SBA director assures funds if voters pass facilities bond

Raleigh County Schools

BECKLEY — If Raleigh County voters pass a $39 million bond Feb. 8, the West Virginia School Building Authority will pledge additional millions to the county schools budget, SBA Executive Director Dr. Mark Manchin promised Thursday.

“We’ve talked to members of the (school building) authority, and I can say with all confidence that if the voters of Raleigh County say ‘yes,’ the SBA is going to say yes,” said Manchin. “And it will be many millions of dollars coming into Raleigh County.”

A facilities bond is up for special election on Feb. 8, and early voting is currently under way.

If passed, dollars raised by the bond will be combined with incoming SBA funds so that a total of $72 million will be available for building, repairing and renovating county school buildings.

Manchin made his comments at Stratton Elementary School, where he and a team of architects met with students, teachers, parents, Raleigh Schools Superintendent Jim Brown, Raleigh Board of Education President Rick Snuffer, board members Richard Jarrell and Larry Ford and other school officials.

If the bond is passed, a new, $18 million facility is scheduled to be built on the current Stratton site.

Manchin said the new facility will be among the highest-quality school buildings in the state and will be the state’s fourth sustainable “green,” or LEED, school.

LEED is an internationally recognized certification system that measures a building by energy savings, water efficiency, sustainable land use, improved air quality and stewardship of natural resources.

“I came here today to officially designate this a LEED Silver Certified school, once the construction starts,” Manchin said. “There’s no question in my mind: The people of Raleigh County are going to say ‘yes.’

“Once they do that, we’ll immediately start working with the design team to make sure you have the best school ... not only in southern West Virginia but in West Virginia.”

Several Stratton students were in attendance, along with parents.

Manchin said officials had gathered in honor of the children and wanted to send a strong message to the community.

“I want to make sure you all are making it very clear,” Manchin told media. “We’re building the future of Raleigh County and, particularly, those who attend Stratton Elementary.”

He added that while the current facility has a lot of history to offer, the new facility will give the children what they need to excel and advance in the future.

“The students of Stratton deserve the best,” said Manchin.

Manchin praised Brown’s leadership on the bond issue and said that if the bond passes, monies in addition to initial matching bond funds will flow into the state once the LEED schools are built.

“The message is pretty clear,” Brown stated. “It’s about the students ... and we’re expecting great results.”

Beckley Mayor Bill O’Brien said the City of Beckley is behind the bond.

“This is so needed,” he said. “This building has been here so long, and it’s time for something new, especially for this part of the community.

“We’re behind you.”

Manchin, who recently announced his upcoming resignation from the SBA to head up Harrison County schools, spoke to Ghent parents at Ghent Elementary School Thursday night.

The SBA was created by state lawmakers in 1989 to facilitate and provide state funds for the construction and maintenance of school facilities.

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