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BOE: Funding could upgrade Culloden

Nov. 14, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County Schools is once again submitting a major renovation project to the West Virginia School Building Authority in hopes of receiving funding.

The project is at Culloden Elementary and would include a complete demolition of the front facade and a new cafeteria and kitchen. The project was presented to the school board at Tuesday evening's meeting.

Mike O'Dell, the assistant superintendent for operations, said they tried to get SBA funding in the spring -- even upping the county's contribution from $1 million to $4 million -- but there wasn't enough funding to go around. However, the Culloden project was a finalist, and officials think it will merit $3.5 million toward the $7.5 million cost. An estimated $39 million will be available in 2013.

O'Dell said the project is the county's top priority because the facade, built in 1933 and currently the oldest section of a school in Cabell County, has several critical issues. Among them is that there are two fire alarm systems at the school -- one in the facade and one in the newer section of the school built in 1987. That is a violation of the fire code, although the school system has gotten waivers from the state fire marshal.

The plaster in the classroom walls in that portion of the school also has high concentration of asbestos, so high, O'Dell said, that new technology cannot be mounted. Water also leaks into the basement and there are structural concerns, he said.

Projects must be submitted to the SBA by Dec. 1, and awards are given out in March. O'Dell said it would take six to eight months for the design phase, and he anticipates construction would start in January 2014. It would require several classrooms and the office to be housed in modular classrooms which would be on site for the duration of the construction, between 12 and 18 months.

Once completed, O'Dell said he would recommend redrawing the boundaries for Culloden and Milton elementary schools. Milton, he said, is overcrowded, and Culloden could take at least 100 students.

Officials also said the project is critical because there are others in the hopper. After Culloden, the next priority is to renovate the current Beverly Hills Middle into an elementary incubator school for the current Peyton and Geneva Kent elementary schools. Beverly Hills will be vacated during the 2013-14 school year when the new Huntington East Middle School is completed. Enslow Middle also will close and consolidate into the new school.

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