Some major projects and other changes are potentially in the works in Cabell County Schools, and those who have a stake in the school system might want to offer their input now while there is still time.
Options being considered by school officials make for a lot of moving parts, and members of the public — if they haven’t spoken up by now — might want to share their opinions on how those parts should fit together over the next decade.
This past Thursday evening, school officials unveiled a list of projects being considered for bond money and other sources as part of its ten-year Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan, or CEFP.
Projects range from routine maintenance work at some schools, such as roof repairs, that could be paid for through normal board revenues. Others are big-ticket items that will require bond money.
The board is considering replacing some schools. That process could include consolidating two elementaries into one. Also under consideration is redrawing some district lines to relieve congestion at schools that are or could be overcrowded.
In some cases, both scenarios are possible.
Twelve of the county’s 18 elementary schools could be affected by renovations, replacement, consolidation or redistricting: Altizer, Cox Landing, Culloden, Davis Creek, Guyandotte, Hite-Saunders, Martha, Meadows, Milton, Nichols, Ona and Village of Barboursville.
Those schools account for about 61 percent of elementary enrollment in the county’s public school system.
In addition to those, the Career and Technical Center is in need of renovations ($35.4 million) or replacement ($64.2 million).
Cabell Midland and Huntington high schools are nearing their 30th years of service and need work to keep them in good condition. The estimates are $28.3 million at Midland and $27.3 million at Huntington.
And there is the need for a football field to be shared by Huntington and Huntington East middle schools. Neither has a field at present.
Consolidations and redistricting are not easy. Some people live where they do because they want their children going to a specific school, and consolidations and redistricting upset those plans.
The long-term prediction for enrollment in Cabell County public schools is flat or a slight decline. Some areas are seeing increases in enrollment, meaning some are seeing decreases.
That’s why the Village of Barboursville Elementary could be affected by plans for Davis Creek and other nearby schools. Some students at Village of Barboursville could be redistricted to other schools, or an expansion at Barboursville could relieve problems elsewhere through redistricting.
Thus, details are many and complicated. Projects being considered can be reviewed at https://www.cabellschools.com. Click on “About” and follow the links to see a document giving details of projects being considered.
“This is a way for us to prioritize the projects that our facilities are going to need to remain up-to-date and current for the next 10 years,” Superintendent Ryan Saxe said Thursday at one of two community meetings where the list was unveiled.
Putting another bond issue on the ballot to pay for some of these projects is almost certain for this year or next. Last fall, Saxe said a levy to pay for the new bond issue likely would be at the same rate as the current one, which was approved in 2006 and will be paid off in the coming year.
Thursday’s meetings were the final public events for the community to contribute feedback before a plan is made final. However, people interested in commenting on it can access a questionnaire that is available online through Feb. 2.
There’s no question that in a district as large as Cabell County, upgrades, renovations and replacements are always on the schedule. Under present circumstances, a bond issue will be a must.
The board’s task now is deciding what projects would be included. The public’s task is ensuring the board and administrators know what projects are needed most.