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Pocahontas County to ask voters for new school levy

MARLINTON, W.Va. — In order to make necessary improvements to schools, the Pocahontas County Board of Education hopes to pass a levy in 2016 that would help the school system receive additional state funding – and would result in major changes, including consolidation.

The Pocahontas County BOE recently applied to receive $12 million in funding from the West Virginia School Building Authority in Charleston. The money would be put toward renovating schools within the county.

Instead of being granted the amount of monetary funding the county was applying for, the SBA gave Pocahontas County a Reserve Grant. This grant gives the county$100,000 that can be used to have a levy election to raise additional funds at the county level.

Pocahontas County Superintendent Terrance Beam said, “They are basically guaranteeing the $12-13 million request we made contingent upon us passing our levy.”

“I will be recommending that we run our levy in November rather than in May when the primary is held to ensure that we will have enough time to adequately prepare and inform the public of what the levy would be for,” Beam said.

The SBA has reserved the $12-13 million for the next funding year.

If Pocahontas County passes the levy in November 2016, the county would then receive the money in December 2016.

“We are responsible for $5.9 million as a local share, but hopefully our levy would generate more money than that,” Beam said.

If the levy is passed and the SBA funds are available, the BOE will reconfigure the county’s schools.

Marlington Elementary School is not eligible for state funding because it is in a flood plain, so the building would no longer be used if the levy is passed. The school’s students would be moved to Marlington Middle School.

The consolidation of these two schools would convert Marlington Middle School to a Pre-K-6th grade school. The seventh and eighth graders from Marlington Middle School would be transferred to Pocahontas County High School, making it a seventh-12th grade facility.

Additionally, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, currently a Pre-K-8th grade school, would be converted to a Pre-K-sixth grade facility if the levy passes. The middle school’s seventh and eighth graders would be moved to Pocahontas County High School.

Green-Bank Elementary-Middle School would additionally receive repairs to the heating, plumbing, sewage and sprinkler systems inside the building.

These projects could take several years before completion. Most of next year would be used to promote and attempt to pass the levy. If the levy were to pass, it would not be until sometime after January 2017 when contractors and architects would be contacted to begin the project.

“We’re a long way down the road, but we are excited for the opportunity to get this money for our school system,” Beam said.

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