POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education held a special Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) meeting on Monday evening to discuss the next 10 years for the district.
The board heard reports from committee members during the meeting, as well as a few comments from the public.
At the end of the meeting, the board decided to put the plan out to the public to receive comments. The board will meet Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. to further discuss the plan and comments.
The CEFP committee, which is made up of 26 members — including community members, secondary principals, school directors, the superintendent, a school planner and representatives from McKinely Architects, according to Dr. Kenny Bond, curriculum director.
The committee presented the suggestions to the board for projects for Mason County Schools from 2020-2030. The “priority projects” had an estimated total cost of $31,885,107. The “secondary projects” had an additional estimated total cost of $5,628,258.
Among the suggested projects, sixth grade students would be moved from all elementary schools to create full middle schools. Upgrades and renovations would take place in all three high schools to accept these students — totaling $950,000 in estimated costs according to the CEFP proposal.
During the meeting, the committee said that Leon Elementary was given a “poor” rating on a scorecard evaluation based on many variables including condition of building, doors, windows, enrollment, etc. Roosevelt Elementary was given a “fair” rating. Due to these things, the committee recommended in the plan proposal to “close Roosevelt Elementary and Leon Elementary to provide a state-of-the-art school for students.” The consolidation of the schools was estimated at $15,472,800, but did not include the acquisition of the site.
The committee also recommended closing Point Pleasant Primary School “due to condition of building, facility usage and lack of site acreage.” The primary students would be moved to the Point Pleasant Intermediate School. The project was estimated at a cost of $4,691,040.
Other projects included: recommissioning all HVAC control systems, estimated cost of $1,756749; improving existing gymnasiums at Hannan and Beale, estimated cost of $1,522,800 each; install man-traps at Ashton, Beale, Hannan, Career Center, and Wahama, estimated cost of $36,000 each; correct foundation issues at Wahama, estimated cost of $100,800; improve various athletic facilities at all three high schools, estimated total cost of $5,638,118.
The secondary projects including roof replacement at Point Pleasant Intermediate School, Beale Elementary, New Haven Elementary and Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High (PPJ/SH) for a total estimated cost of $4,330,860. The final secondary project was to resurface parking lots at Wahama, PPJ/SH, Ashton Elementary, Beale Elementary, Hannan, Career Center, New Haven Elementary and Point Pleasant Intermediate School for a total estimated cost of $1,297,398.
There was much discussion from the board about the proposal. Board member Meagan Bonecutter asked why they would move sixth grade students into the middle schools. Bonecutter expressed her concerns with having 11 year old students in the same building as 18 year old students. Bonecutter also said many research studies show that kindergarten though sixth schools and students do better in many subject tests later and have lower drop-out rates. The committee said that in many cases, sixth grade students are allowed to participate in middle school events and the curriculum is written the same in many cases. Dave Morgan, a member of the CEFP committee, said moving the sixth graders would increase the “efficiency of use” percentage for the high school buildings. The state department looks at the “efficiency of use” percentage to determine many things, including funding.
Bonecutter also asked why they would close Leon and Roosevelt elementary schools. After the condition of the buildings was explained, Bonecutter said the student’s academic achievement was great and the maintenance department rarely has issues at Leon Elementary.
The CEFP committee suggested the board consider putting a bond levy on the ballot to fund some of the projects.
In the public discussion, the board heard from five attendees. The first speaker asked if the board passes the 10 year plan, how much money is expected to be saved? The committee said they did not complete a projection of savings, but any improvement would benefit the county school system.
The second speaker said they felt the education students received at Leon and Roosevelt elementary schools was “fantastic,” but felt that the decision would “boil down to” financial decisions. The attendee asked the board if they considered what the public would think of building a new school when the primary school would be sitting empty four miles from the Roosevelt building. She said she realized Roosevelt had HVAC issues, but asked what was wrong with the primary school building in Point Pleasant.
The third speaker said she was a sixth grade teacher at Leon Elementary. She asked if there would be separate gymnasiums and cafeterias for the middle schools and high schools when they moved the sixth grade students. She also said she is a licensed teacher for kindergarten through sixth grade and wondered how keeping teachers to teach sixth through eight grade students would work.
The fourth speaker asked if the estimated costs built in inflation for the next 10 years. The committee said the architects did calculate inflation into the estimates.
The final speaker told the board that tax payers will not forget their students sitting in cold classrooms when the buildings had HVAC issues if the board does put a bond levy on the ballot. They asked if there was a “plan B” for if the bond does not pass.
The board has to approve a CEFP plan and submit it to the state by Oct. 30. The discussion and possible action will take place on Tuesday evening.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.