There may be an end in sight for the mediation group set up to come up with a plan on how to handle Nicholas County school construction post-June 2016 flood.
For nearly two years, two sides have been fighting tooth and nail for their proposed fix for the destruction of the middle and high school in Richwood, along with the middle school in Summersville.
That fight has greatly divided the county and even led to court litigation all the way to the West Virginia Supreme Court.
With millions of dollars in FEMA funds destined for school construction in the county and after multiple deadline extensions, a mediation team made up of representatives of the Nicholas County Board of Education (NCBOE) and the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE) was organized in late February.
Two months later that effort has seemed to work with a finalized plan set in place.
That plan calls for the construction of community schools, or school located within a 3-mile radius of the former Richwood High School to serve grades six through 12.
If on a shared campus, those schools would have distinct spaces for the middle and high students, with the school's maintaining current names, teams, mascots and school cultures.
A new middle and high school would also be built near Summersville, with each maintaining distinct spaces if co-located.
Along with those schools, an integrated career and technical education (CTE) facility will be built near Summersville. Participation at the CTE facility will be open to all Nicholas County students.
In the agreement, the NCBOE agrees to strive to provide athletics, arts and other extracurricular activities that are safe, sanitary, and functional, including an auditorium, a band room, a gymnasium, cafeteria, and athletic fields to all students.
While not guaranteed, the plan calls for a size flexibility for each school to allow for parents to choose the right middle or high school for their student.
The plan now goes before both boards for approval.
The NCBOE is set to vote Monday, May 7, with the WVBOE to vote Wednesday, May 9 — if first approved by the NCBOE.
If approved, the plan will go before the West Virginia School Building Authority for approval.
Final school locations will be determined through a site evaluation process that meets FEMA requirements.
The complete public update can be found by visiting: https://wvde.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Nicholas-County-Schools-Mediation-Apr-30-Public-Update-180430.pdf.
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