A Plan to Finally Fix the Major Problems with the Pocahontas School Buildings
In the previously aired part one of our June 15th interview with Pocahontas School Superintendent Terrence Beam, he talked about the projects they plan to spend the county schools’ 3.4 million dollar share of the funds from the Federal COVID relief bill known as the American Rescue Plan. Beam said the school system is planning to use a lot of that money for new heating and air-conditioning at Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary/Middle School, which the state has Found to have the most serious air quality issues.
In this second part, Beam talks about other school facility issues that will remain and the strategies that will be used to fix those too.
“As everyone is well aware, we have been unable to pass a local excess levy to help fix our schools that need repair,” said Beam. “So, we have used the School Building Authority (SBA) to make significant improvements at Pocahontas County High School and Green Bank Elementary/Middle School. Well, this past fall, we applied for another round of money from the School Building Authority to do upgrades to all of our schools and do air-conditioning and it was not approved. This fall, we will be going back to the School Building Authority and re-applying to get HVAC and electrical upgrades for the three remaining schools, Hillsboro, Pocahontas High School and Marlinton Middle School. Since we are going to be using our American Rescue Plan money to air-condition Green Bank and Marlinton Middle School, then the other three schools need to have new air-conditioning. The high school is air-conditioned, but it has a lot of issues, anybody that’s sitting in those gyms or auditoriums for a presentation have noticed it gets really, really hot in there, so we need to upgrade those systems.”
“The other thing is, next summer, 2022, we will be going back to the SBA again to ask to replace the roof at Marlinton Elementary School.”
“We signed an agreement with Wendell Energy Systems a few months back. It’s an energy savings company that will allow us to install LED lighting in all five of our schools, which will save us money on electric bills and on lighting and everything else. And, that money we will be able to save from our energy costs to be put back into the repairs of our schools. The first project we are going to be using that money for- and this is going to begin this fall- is we must replace the sprinkler system at Marlinton Elementary School. It works, but it doesn’t work as well as it needs to be. We need to protect our kids, and that entire system needs to be replaced. By using the first two- or three-years money savings from our energy project, then we can use that money to replace the sprinkler system at Marlinton Elementary School, and again, we can do that right away.”
“If, in the event the SBA doesn’t approve replacing the roof at Marlinton Elementary School, then I am going to ask the board to consider allowing us to use the energy savings money that we will be accruing at that time to go ahead and replace that roof at Marlinton Elementary School.”
“So, I wanted to point these things out that our CEFP (Consolidated Educational Facilities Plan) which was finished this past summer, stated that we would keep all five schools open if we could at all. There was a lot of discussion about that. Some people wanted us to close some of the schools and move the middle school to the high school and all this, and other people wanted to keep all five schools. Where it stands right now is that in the near future, we will be having five schools. So, we have to try and take care of those schools the bast we can, without asking the citizens of Pocahontas County to fund the costs. And the way you can do that is by taking this money from the Federal Government and spend it the way they tell us we need to spend it, and using our energy savings money to replace some of the other things that need to be done, and going back to the School Building Authority for additional funding. By doing those things, we think we can get out buildings back in really good shape without having to seek a levy or a bond or anything like that.”
“We’ve been needing air-conditioning in our schools forever. This will get us 40% of the way, and then in the next year or eighteen months we should have two of our schools – actually get to 60% because the high school does have air-conditioning. And then we will have Hillsboro and Marlinton Elementary Schools. I want to assure the citizens of those two communities that we’ve not forgotten them. We are going to address those issues as quickly as we can.”