FRANKLIN, W.Va. — A solemn new school dedication turned into a joyous occasion when State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano hopped off the VIP stage, grabbed a chair and plopped down in front of the Franklin Elementary School students seated on the gymnasium floor beside two tables flanked with state and county dignitaries.
Explaining he was in charge of 19,000 teachers teaching more than 280,000 students – a very big job, Martirano said he wanted to talk to those who were going to be using this school.
“Reach down onto the floor, lift up and place your thinking caps on your head. Tell me what makes this school outstanding,” Martirano asked.
Happily raising their hands, students individually answered: The colors are cheerful. We have a separate cafeteria and gym. The library is a lot bigger. The teachers and classrooms with smart pads are better. The old school had dirty floors and now we have clean floors, they said.
“This school is a tremendous gift to you and the community. A lot of adults seated over there at the tables have worked for you. The total community has come together for you and want you to come to school each day, take advantage of the learning and be all you can be. I can’t wait to see what you become,” Martirano said.
Noting the school colors were yellow and blue, Martirano, waved his bright yellow/blue tie and then lifted his foot. “Just take a look at those socks,” he said and pointed to his yellow and blue-striped socks worn with his highly polished wing-tip shoes. Go Panthers.”
The kids loved it.
Martirano finished by congratulating the teachers, students, builders and the community. “This school is a job well done,” he added.
The new FES was built at a cost of $12,600,000 with $11,474,000 coming from the West Virginia School Building Authority, $824,000 from a Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) loan with a 15-year payoff and $302,000 from local funds.
The former school, built in the 1950s, had ventilation not meeting current standards; outdated bathrooms, obsolete electrical and technology infrastructure; and air conditioning provided by window units. The campus was divided by a road separating the school from the playground.
Committed to obtaining state funding for a new school, the local board of education learned, after discussion with the School Building Authority (SBA), it would have a significantly better chance of receiving funding if the county would consider a design-build concept.
Design-build is a process in which a single entity provides both design and construction of a project allowing the design professional to be part of the construction entity, thereby eliminating redundancy in the proposal and bidding procedures, according to school records.
The benefits include accelerated completion of the project, cost containment, reduction of complexity and reduced risk to school districts. It shifts the liability and risk for cost containment and completion to the design-build entity.
Not only is FES the first design-build new-construction project funded by the WVSBA, it’s the first in the United States constructed of cross-laminated timbers which are engineered solid structural wood panels comprising the floor, walls and roof. Made from “waste wood” in Germany, they are fabricated using wood planks stacked at right angles and bonded with structural adhesives. The benefits are exceptional strength, excellent fire resistance, enhanced speed of construction and energy savings.
FES is a two-story 44,000 square foot structure with red brick walls accented with beige brick soldier courses and quoins, white windows with divided panes, stone sills and keystones designed for 290 students in pre-K through sixth grade.
Principal Rick Linaburg cited the school history in Franklin beginning with a log court house school used from 1802 to 1809 to a wood school, built on Evick land in 1809 costing $6,210, to the former cinder block school, built in the 1950s for $93,000.
Former school board member Jack Vogel laughingly commented: “We’ve gone from wood to wood.”
At the dedication ceremony, FES student hosts were Dalton Dunkle, Cheznie Liggett, Regan Sites and Billy McCoy. Laney See and Josh Alt led the Pledge of Allegiance. JD Wilkins gave the invocation followed by comments from Linaburg; Pendleton County School Superintendent Douglas Lambert; Peter Markham, general counsel to West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and chairman of the West Virginia SBA; Tom Lange, West Virginia SBA member; Martirano and Bill Loving, president of Pendleton Community Bank.
The West Virginia SBA funded the school at its meeting April 22, 2013, in Charleston. The project began in October 2013 and was completed in December 2014. The general contractor was City Construction located in Clarksburg.