PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday approved the final version of the Wood County Schools facilities bond call.
The $41,140,000 bond will be brought to voters for approval in November and will help pay for more than $51 million in new construction, renovations and roof repairs and replacements. Officials hope the state School Building Authority will provide the remaining $10 million for the project.
The bond will be used to build a new Williamstown area elementary school, closing and combining the current Williamstown Elementary and Waverly Elementary schools. It also will pay for renovations at Williamstown High to make it into a true middle/high school, the renovation and expansion of the Wood County Technical Center on the campus of Parkersburg South High School, and roof replacements throughout Wood County Schools.
The board voted 4-1, with board member Rick Tennant voting against, to approve the final language. Tennant has been a vocal opponent of school consolidation and said he believes combining Waverly and Williamstown elementary schools will increase class sizes and reduce staff, ultimately harming student learning.
The school board opted to approve a 15-year bond rather than a 20-year bond which was originally considered. The change will reduce the amount of interest on the bonds, but increases the levy rate slightly.
Officials said the change in the length of the bond will save Wood County Schools about $3 million in interest. Under the 15-year bond, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an annual rate of $52.56, or about $4.40 a month. A homeowner under homestead exemption would pay $35 per year, or less than $3 per month.
The bond does include language which would drop the Wood County Technical Center from the list of projects if the SBA does not pledge $10 million toward the projects. However, in that case $1.5 million would be spent to create a covered walkway at the center.
Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling said officials brought to his attention the bond to be approved would have $1.5 million unallocated, and he chose to put that toward the walkway because it was a safety and security issue. Fling said the walkway was identified as a need in the early days of the 2016 Bond Committee visiting schools.
“With that set amount of money (in the bond call), you had to allocate that money to something somewhere,” he said. “I identified this as a safety issue.”
Fling said the bond will be brought to the Wood County Commission Aug. 29 for placement on the November ballot. Fling said he and representatives of architectural and engineering firm ZMM will meet this week with representatives of the SBA in Charleston.