Wayne school projects get started
WAYNE -- Wayne County Schools officials have wasted no time in getting started on $42.2 million in projects that will provide new or updated facilities to more than 1,600 students in the county.
Since voters in the county passed the $18 million bond sale that funds a portion of the projects on May 13, county officials, school administrators, financiers and community members have set in motion the paperwork and activities that will lead to the new construction of a Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School and a combined Crum PK-8 school as well as a classroom addition and renovation to Wayne High School. All projects are to be completed by August 2017.
All involved are working on a rough schedule that has been put in place and will become more certain after the $18 million in school improvement bonds are sold. The bond sale likely will take place in late September, Superintendent Lynn Hurt said.
"We won't put out the bids until after September because the bonds won't be sold until then," Hurt said. "We have a preliminary timeline once the bonds are sold."
The school system also is in the process of acquiring $18 million in funding from the West Virginia School Building Authority. The authority will provide Wayne County with $8 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year and the remaining $10 million in the 2015-16 year, Hurt said.
"How that works is we pay, and they reimburse us," Hurt said. "We have the paperwork ready, and the board will vote on it Tuesday (June 17). If they approve it, we get the signatures and mail it in."
In the meantime, committees composed of faculty, community members, board members and school administrators will meet regularly with architects from ZMM Architects & Engineers to make decisions about the design and function of each school, said David Ferguson, architect and vice president of ZMM in Charleston who is in charge of the projects in Wayne County.
"I think the biggest thing people should know is that there are going to be people from their communities, staff and principals involved in the design and makeup of these buildings," Ferguson said. "We try to hit all of the points about what everyone wants to have in a building, and we get as much of that into the budget.
"We are going to get as much involvement as we can from the communities and staff."
Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School
The process of getting money from the SBA makes it possible for the county to move forward on the very first physical step in the projects: demolishing the building that once housed Ceredo-Kenova High School to make way for the new Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School.
The space has not been occupied since the high school closed in 1998, and the building since has become a safety hazard, Hurt said.
"There isn't anything in the building," Hurt said. "There's no power, no heat or air, and no water. Any time you leave a building vacant like that, you're going to have deterioration. Plus, that building is very old."
The building repeatedly has been boarded up to keep people out of the facility, and the boards repeatedly have been torn off, said Bill Rosenberger, communications director for the school system.
Those circumstances are why the school system will piggy-back onto an existing state contract with a demolition company in order to fast-track the demolition of the high school later this summer, Hurt said.
By signing on to the existing contract, the school system would receive the same rate that already has been negotiated by the state, Hurt said. That action will have to be approved by the school board before school officials can engage in the contract.
By the time the $18 million in bonds are sold in September, the old C-K High School should be completely or nearly demolished, Ferguson said.
Construction on C-K Elementary tentatively will begin in spring 2015 and be completed in time for students to begin attending classes in the facility for the 2017-18 school year.
Wayne High School
Little time will be wasted in getting started on renovations at Wayne, Ferguson said.
Bids will be opened in the fall as soon as money from the bond sale is in hand, and construction will begin shortly thereafter.
"The Wayne High School addition will go first only because it is the smaller project," he said. "The bidding process is four weeks, and once the low bidder has been approved, we can start construction within two weeks."
Nothing is set in stone, but Ferguson said he expected the renovation to begin during late fall and last for eight months.
"First, we will be building an office area and four classrooms," Ferguson said. "Once the school officials vacate the existing office area, we will renovate that space into two classrooms and close off the open portions of the school and create a safe school entrance."
Ferguson said school officials and staff will be part of pre-construction meetings to let them know the safety procedures that will be taken during construction.
The renovation of Wayne High School is expected to be completed by the end of the school year.
Crum PK-8 School
While things will begin to take shape throughout the county, school officials hope to hammer out the details of the acquisition of a piece of property along Big Bend Road and Tug River with the goal of making it the home of a new Crum PK-8 School.
"There are some legal issues we're working on right now," Hurt said. "Right now, that's all I can say. We are working with the property owner, and the board has contracted with an outside law firm to deal with legal issues that pertain to the real estate."
Rosenberger said the school system is willing to push back the construction schedule by a small margin if it means securing the new property for the school.
The original plan for the Crum school was to build it where the elementary and middle schools stand now, but last fall a group of parents and community members urged the school board to build it somewhere else.
They said the current property is difficult to access because of the active nearby railroad, and a landowner approached the board shortly thereafter to offer the property that currently is part of the negotiations for the new school.
Rosenberger said the original plan now is a very distant Plan B, and the focus remains on acquiring the new property.
The new property would require some preparation in getting it above the flood plain and otherwise preparing the foundation for construction, Ferguson said.
Rosenberger also said the access road to the property would have to be updated before students could begin taking classes.
Even with those tasks ahead, Hurt and Ferguson said their schedule includes putting the Crum project to bid in late spring, not long after the C-K Elementary project.
"The process is different for every one because they are different projects totally," Ferguson said. "For the C-K School, we can start designing and have the building torn down while we're designing. Whereas the Crum school, we can't get in the design process until we get the property. Then, we can see where the building will go on the property, but we don't have to worry about tearing anything down like we do for C-K."
Hurt said she still expects the Crum PK-8 School to open along with C-K Elementary at the start of the 2017-18 school year.
Follow Reporter Lacie Pierson on Twitter, @LaciePiersonHD.
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