With a mediation agreement now passed by both the Nicholas County Board of Education (NCBOE) and the West Virginia State Board of Education (WVBOE) and awaiting the approval of the West Virginia School Building Authority, it seems that the issue of what to do with the county’s destroyed schools has been settled.
That settling went further on Tuesday when county voters re-elected two incumbent school board members in Phil Berry and Fred Amick, while also electing newcomer Libby Coffman.
Coffman received 3,655 votes, with Berry receiving 3,521 and Amick receiving 3,459 votes.
Three candidates who were known as the three Rs, Roy Moose, Rick Green and Stacy Thomas-Ruffo, received 3,042, 2,983 and 2,586 votes respectively.
Tuesday’s election followed on the heels of Monday’s NCBOE meeting where the board approved amendments to the county’s school building plan paving the way for Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) backed school construction in the county.
Nicholas County Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick highlighted the new plan which would build a new Summersville Middle School and Nicholas County High School at the Glade Creek Business Park, along with new Richwood Middle and High schools on the same site of the Cherry River Elementary School.
Both locations will first need FEA approval.
Nicholas County High School will be considered a comprehensive high school and will play host to the county’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) center.
Richwood High School would be considered a community high school, with students participating in CTE programs busing into the new Nicholas County High School for CTE classes or participating in internship-like programs in the Richwood area.
Burge-Tetrick also opened the possibility of distance learning and certain courses being available at the Richwood campus dependent on demand and availability.
“If we’re ever going to move ahead in this county, we have to got to open our eyes,” Burge-Tetrick said at the Monday meeting. “We’ve got to explore all of the opportunities available to us and our students.”
According to Burge-Tetrick, those opportunities rely a great deal on the availability of internship opportunities outside of the classroom.
“Why take a student and try to offer a class in a school when the student can actually go to the job site,” the superintendent said, adding later that while students can now leave school to work, the new possible program will allow them to gain school credit and certification.
Burge-Tetrick said with Richwood High School being a community school, opportunities offered to the students will also rely heavily on community and business involvement.
“It’s meant to strengthen the community and support the child, support the parent and families and I think the relationship could be very strong,” the superintendent said at the Monday meeting. “It’s going to take a commitment from the business owners. It’s going to take a commitment from those industries.”
Each planned school will also maintain its own spaces and keep current school identities and mascots.
The building process will also allow for future growth or decline at any of school location depending on demographic shift in the county.
“We have to build for the current and plan for the future,” Burge-Tetrick said. “We have to build for what we can sustain now.”
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