Pocahontas Schools to Revise its Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan
In Part one of this report by the Pocahontas County School Superintendent, Mr. Beam talked about his efforts to accomplish badly needed school renovations by using the School Building Authority’s Major Improvement Projects. Here in Part two of his report, Mr. Beam talks about next school year’s Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan or CEFP, which is a requirement of the State to be done every ten-years and which will require public meetings and input.
“Coming up next year, in the 19 -20 school year, every county in the State of West Virginia has to revise their CEFP, and what that stands for is the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan” said Beam. These are done every ten years state-wide. It involves stakeholders from all over the county to get input from business leaders, from citizens, from educators on what we need to be doing with (school) facilities in Pocahontas County. This was done in the 2009-2010 (school) year. I happened to be Principal at Hillsboro that year and I was on that committee that Mrs. Irvine headed, they will be doing the process again. They are changing the process -they are trying to simplify it a little bit for next year. But it is a very important process because it sets your goals in a prioritized list on what you need to address at your schools, whether it is do you want to build a new high school, if you want to possibly close a school, or build onto a school, or relocate a school, or whatever it happens to be, or maybe simple renovations to those schools. But when you go to the SBA, they look at your CEFP, and whatever is first on your list is what you should be going to them for funding for. And if it is not, than you have to amend your CEFP and get permission from the State Board (of Education) to do that before you can even be considered for funding. So, getting the order right in what we need to fund is a very big job. We’ll be asking for a lot of input from our communities. We’ll be having community meetings on this and we will be asking for a lot of citizens to participate on this. When I was on this committee ten years ago, there was approximately thirty to forty people on that committee. We will try and involve all areas of the county that want to have input on what direction we need to go on our facilities. I know one of the major things that we have to consider is air conditioning in our schools. As we all know, it seems like the summers are getting hotter and our buildings are miserable for our kids and our employees to be in. I can’t go to the SBA in the summertime and ask for air conditioning for our schools because we are only allowed to ask for one school and I don’t want to ask for one school to get air conditioning and the others not to have it, so we have to find a funding source to solve that air conditioning problem as soon as possible because before you know, it’s going to be May and June again and its’s going to be getting hot in our buildings and there is no money there-no money in our school system to pay for air conditioning for these schools. We have a contract with Thrasher Associates, who is taking care of the Green Bank MIP Project for us this year, and I talked to my representative from Thrasher and he is going to do an audit of our schools and give us an approximate cost of what it would take to air-condition our buildings if we keep all our buildings open, if we don’t make any other renovations to it, what would it cost to air condition? And we’re not talking about just air conditioning, were talking about electrical upgrades because our buildings are old and they were not built with the plan of air conditioning all these schools. The electrical capacity of these schools will not handle air conditioning. So, that’s another cost that has to be figured in. When we figure that cost and we have to make a decision as a school system how we seek the funding to do this, whether we try to do this through the SBA or we try to do it through a different funding source -whether it is grants or whatever. Those grants are hard to come up for air conditioning, but we look at air-conditioning as a Safe Schools issue because without having air conditioning in our buildings, our teachers are forced to open windows and doors which invites problems in our schools. So, facilities is a major issue. It’s not going away, it’s not getting any better. It’s only getting worse because as our buildings age our problems increase. So, I just wanted to take a few minutes today, and I probably took longer then I should have, to address what we are thinking about with facilities, but you will be hearing more about this in the future.”