Pocahontas School Superintendent Clarifies his Ideas to keep a School in the Town of Marlinton
In his monthly report, Pocahontas School Superintendent Terrence Beam clarifies his ideas to keep Marlinton Elementary School in the Town of Marlinton.
“I’d like to talk about some of the comments that I made at recent Board meetings and also in the Pocahontas Times concerning the future of Marlinton Elementary School” said Beam. “I want to make it abundantly clear; these are my thoughts only, and not thoughts by the Board of Education. I have seen from the Nicholas County situation with Richwood High School and Richwood Middle School what that has done to the morale of the area. And I simply don’t want to see that happen in Pocahontas County. It’s extremely important that we try and find every way possible to keep a school here in the Town of Marlinton. The next thing I want to say is where it gets a bit more challenging. To find a long term solution to keeping Marlinton Elementary in the Town of Marlinton, the citizens of the Town of Marlinton in particular, need to begin immediately start forming groups -a grassroots type of process to determine the interest in trying to keep a school here. I think it’s very obvious that people want to keep a school here, but I don’t know how much interest there is out there of people actually working towards that goal. We’re sitting on a ticking clock as far as the school goes, and we’ve elaborated on that several times. There are major issues with that building that need to be corrected. If the Board of Education spearheads a drive to do this, it’s going to fall on deaf ears because people simply do not have faith and trust in the school system in general. And that’s something that’s been passed down from generation to generation, and I’m sure that’s just the way things are. So in order for it to have credibility, I think it needs to come from the citizens themselves. We have some very powerful speakers in our community with very strong and high opinions, and it’s time for them to start openly discussing ways to keep this school open or find a new location inside the Town of Marlinton to build another school. You only have two choices. You either renovate the building that you have or you construct a building that you don’t have. And when you build a building you got to find the acreage for that and the location for that and so forth. If you renovate it, then you are doing something more temporary. I don’t have a preference either way. I can say this. From the information we’ve been given by the School Building Authority, any reservations that’s done to that school would have to be done by grants of local funds of some type. Any new building that would be built – if it was built right here in Marlinton- if it’s outside the flood zone, we would be eligible to apply for a School Building Authority grant. The citizens may find out if this group is formed and people start digging down to find out what it is going to cost to renovate this school. If a new school is being built in town, that money ,instead of going towards renovating a building, would probably serve as our down payment on our new building. So we’re probably talking about the same amount of money for the citizens to provide. It’s just a matter of keeping the current building right where it is, still in the flood zone and still fifty years old, or whatever it is-not fifty years (but) the age of the building or taking that same amount of money and trying to get a brand new building built. That’s not something for me to decide, that for the citizens to decide. And that also one of the reasons that I want the citizens groups to do this research. I want them to determine how much it would cost to fix the current Marlinton Middle School to where it would be up to standards. They can get their own contractors, their own architects, and determine their own estimates on what it costs to fix it. Then they can share that information with the community as a whole. That’s what I’m saying, we want to keep a school here. The Board of Education will do everything in their power to support any kind of a movement to do that; we will provide any information that they need; we will assist in any way that we can, but we do not want to lead this, because it will fail if we try to lead this. I will provide any information that I can; I will come and speak to groups if they have any questions for me, but again, most importantly, it needs to be a citizens’ based effort.”