UPDATE: Wayne Excess Levy Early Voting Underway

By: Bill Murray, Andrew Colegrove Email
By: Bill Murray, Andrew Colegrove Email
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UPDATE 11/12/13 @ 10:40 a.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Early voting got underway over the weekend in Wayne County for the excess levy.

The first day of voting was Saturday, and according to Wayne County Voter's Registration, 32 people cast a ballot that day.

The office was closed Monday due to Veteran's Day. Early voting continues Tuesday.

The excess levy has been in place for 50 years and provides funding for text books, computers, and maintenance in the school district.

If renewed, the levy would not increase taxes for voters. It would keep the current rate in place.

Hours for early voting are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Election Day is November 23.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 11/7/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A second committee meeting for a group formed to discuss a reconfiguration plan for Wayne County Schools will remain closed to the public and media..

The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday at 5 p.m.

Their first meeting was held Saturday, Nov. 2, and was closed to the public and media.

The Wayne County News filed an injunction, saying the public and media should be able to attend the upcoming meeting.

According to the injunction, the committee is made up of Wayne County Board of Education members and community leaders and their plan "could directly affect all taxpayers in Wayne County."

Thursday, Circuit Court Judge James Young denied the motion, saying the committee is not considered part of the board of education and is not a governmental body. Since it is an advisory committee and has no authority and can only make suggestions, they will not be required to grant public access.

The committee was formed after several public meetings were held to discuss a plan proposed by Superintendent Lynn Hurt that would include closing schools.

The plan includes Kenova Elementary and Ceredo-Kenova Middle School closing at the end of the school year.

When the closure happens, there will be changes to where students will attend school.

Ceredo Elementary will house Pre-K, Kindergarten and first graders from both Ceredo and Kenova.

C-K Middle students will be split up and sent to Buffalo and Vinson Middle Schools.

C-K Middle will become the new home for Ceredo and Kenova Elementary students in second, third, fourth and fifth grades.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 11/5/13 @ 10:40 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The importance of keeping an excess levy in place for Wayne County Schools was discussed Wednesday night at Crum Middle School.

It was the second meeting this week to ensure parents and the community can make an informed decision about the levy.

Leaders want people to know this levy has been in place for 50 years.

If passed, taxes will not go up. The current rate will remain in place.

Parents say they understand how crucial this vote is for their kids to get the new school they desperately need.

Early voting for the levy starts this Saturday.

UPDATE 11/4/13 @ 10 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Filling the funding gap for Wayne County Schools is the idea behind a school excess levy that has been in place for 50 years.

School officials were getting the word out Monday night, hoping voters keep that levy in place for many years to come.

Wayne County Superintendent Lynn Hurt and the Board of Education had a meeting Monday night at Buffalo Elementary School. They did so to make sure residents understand the levy and how crucial it is to keep schools afloat.

It is important to note that, if passed, the levy would not raise taxes. It would simply keep the current rate in place.

The levy will be on the ballot Nov. 23.

Earlier Monday, educators and the community spoke out about the levy.

"I think people are really aggravated over what happened last year," PTO President Katrina Nelson said. "There's a lot of things we don't have, and I'm afraid. It scares me that if this levy doesn't pass that's going to be even more things we don't have."

Hurt said, "Frustration hits us all. We can come back together as a county and vote for all these things, and we can have two new schools and a new addition in about four years, but we have to work together."

UPDATE 11/2/13 @ 10:30 a.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For the second time, the old Kenova Elementary School property went on the auction block. And for the second time, no one showed up to bid on the property.

The school was shut down in May 2011 after sink holes were found on the property.

The property originally went on the block in July with a $1 million, but City Council President Don Bias says the bid price was too high, so they lowered the price for this auction.

Bias says he doesn't know why the property isn't selling, especially because it is a valuable property in Kenova because of its location (junction of routes 60 and 75).

Bias says they will put the voting on the agenda for the next meeting and will also consult with the city attorney to figure out what the options are going forward.

Bias says maybe the property is not selling because of the economy, but that they need to sell it.

"It's very important. We don't want the property to deteriorate any more than it already has. It's an excellent corner," Bias said.

While the auction was taking place, so was a meeting with a newly formed committee to discuss options for a reconfiguration plan for the schools.

We have a crew at the meeting.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 10/30/13 @ 3:20 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Committee members have been named to discuss options for Wayne County's school reconfiguration plan on the heels of community forums this week.

The Wayne County School Board released the names of the committee members Wednesday afternoon.

The committee includes:
Ceredo Elementary:
Otis Adkins/Mayor
Michelle McAnallen/Parent
Ann Wiles/Service Personnel
Cheri LeMaster/Educator-Faculty Senate President
Shane Runyon/Principal

CK Middle:
Todd Smith, Parent
Tim Burgess, Parent
Dave Caudill, Chief, Ceredo VFD
Tammy Gibson, CKMS Teacher
Garland Christian, CKMS Custodian
Tonji Bowen, principal

Kenova Elementary:
Deidre Farley-Principal
Ric Griffith-Mayor
Vicki Ward-Service Personnel
Jenni Butler-Professional Personnel
Rick Chaffin-Community Member
Phil Fraley-Parent
Charles Shumaker-Parent
Senator Plymale was been invited to attend on our committee.

The committee will meet Saturday at 10 a.m. at Kenova Elementary to discuss options regarding a plan that Wayne County Superintendent Lynn Hurt announced earlier this month.

It includes Kenova Elementary and Ceredo-Kenova Middle School closing at the end of the school year.

When the closure happens, there will be changes to where students will attend school.

Ceredo Elementary will house Pre-K, Kindergarten and first graders from both Ceredo and Kenova.

C-K Middle students will be split up and sent to Buffalo and Vinson Middle Schools.

C-K Middle will become the new home for Ceredo and Kenova Elementary students in second, third, fourth and fifth grades.

Public meetings have been held this week for faculty, staff, students, parents and community members to share their thoughts on the plan.

One of the items that came from those meetings was to form a committee to discuss the various options.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 10/29/13 @ 11 p.m.
CEREDO, W.Va. (WSAZ) – It was round 2 Tuesday night in a series of meetings where people in Wayne County can vent about a proposal to close Kenova Elementary and C-K Middle School and send their kids to other places in the county.

The setting this night was C-K Middle, which may no longer be home to middle school students starting next school year.

Half would be sent to Vinson, and half would go to Buffalo Middle.

Parents, teachers, and students who packed into the gym voiced their frustration to Superintendent Lynn Hurt and other school officials.

“To separate us in different schools just isn't fair," 7th-grader Britney Stephens said as she stood at a podium with a microphone. “I love this school, and I love everybody who goes to it, and I don't want to see anything happen to them."

This all goes back to a bond effort that was voted down in December after a sinkhole problem forced kids out of the old Kenova Elementary School and into modular classrooms.

The lease on those is up at the end of this school year, and school officials’ plan involves moving some Kenova Elementary students to Ceredo Elementary and some to C-K Middle, depending on grade level.

Parent and teacher Jenni Butler, who also spoke at Monday night’s meeting at the Wonderdome in Kenova, asked school officials if there was a way students could remain in modular classrooms until a new school can be built.

Hurt says she and school officials are listening to all the ideas.

"We'll look at every option that's been talked about here, go through -- I don't want to be negative, but why or why not that may work, and go from there," Hurt said, “but at least we're working together with the community."

Hurt says they'll wait until after meetings with new committees that were just formed before they'll decide whether they can adopt any of the ideas or change part of the current plan.

Along with the plan of moving students, the second part of the reconfiguration plan is a bond election. This election will be scheduled for the May 2014 Primary and asks voters to contribute $16.2 million to match $6 million from the general fund and $16.2 million from the WV School Building Authority.

School officials say the community contribution from the proposed bond is less than half of what was asked for and rejected by voters in December.

This is separate from an exces slevy that will be voted on November 23. This levy has been in place since 1950. It must be renewed every five years.

According to the Wayne County Board of Education, it does not raise taxes, but continues the rate that has been in place.

The BOE says the excess levy provides the additional funds needed to hire enough educators and support personnel to meet the needs of the students. This includes custodians, who must work additional days to ensure schools are ready to open in August and close in June.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 10/28/13 @ 11 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Hundreds of parents, students and teachers poured into the old C-K Wonderdome Monday night for a meeting on a proposal to close Kenova Elementary and C-K Middle School.

Under the plan, which was announced last week, students would be moved to other locations throughout the county.

At the meeting, people had an opportunity to voice their concerns to Superintendent Lynn Hurt and other Wayne County School officials.

Jenni Butler teaches at Kenova Elementary and has a child who goes there.

Butler says with Ceredo-Kenova High School closing in the 1990s, this would be another blow to their community pride.

“We can't sustain another blow of the loss of an elementary school as well, and the loss of C-K Middle,” Butler said. “Our community is losing its identity."

This all goes back to a bond effort that was voted down in December, following a sinkhole problem that forced kids out of the old school building and into modular classrooms.

The lease on those modular units runs out at the end of this school year.

One recurring fear several people shared at the meeting was that, despite being told otherwise, this solution may turn out to be permanent.

At the meeting, Ceredo Mayor Otis Adkins said the idea of busing C-K Middle students to Vinson and Buffalo was “just absolutely unacceptable.”

The meeting ended with Hurt saying she would be taking one of the suggestions presented.

A new committee will be formed with members of the Kenova and Ceredo communities, Hurt said. The committee, whose members will be determined beginning Tuesday with the help of the Kenova and Ceredo elementary school principals, will meet with school officials Saturday to further go over this issue.

The majority of the more than 20 people who spoke were in favor of passing a levy in November and a bond next spring that would help fund a new school in Kenova.

A community meeting at Ceredo-Kenova Middle School is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29.

UPDATE 10/29/13 @ 6 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Monday night, the Wayne Board of Education will start it's first of at least four informational meetings, countywide, to discuss the need for voters to approve an upcoming levy and bond, to build two new schools in the county.

"We've listened to the voters" says Superintendent Lynn Hurt. "We've told them, not what we want, but what we need. Now we hope, they'll listen."

Monday's meeting is being held at the Wonderdome, in Kenova, to discuss the current plan, to get students out of the modular classrooms they've been in since Spring of 2011.

The county had to come up with a plan to move students, after sinkholes were found on the old school property.

These modular classrooms are being rented for more than $32,000 a month and the lease is up.

"That's money that we could spend towards the construction of a new elementary school building." Hurt said. "But for that to happen, we first need the financial blessing of the West Virginia School Building Authority, which is expected if voter's ok the levy and bond."

Monday's meeting is expected to be heated.

The concern for parents in Kenova is the plan for temporary consolidation. To get students out of those modular classrooms, the board's newest plan is to combine Ceredo and Kenova's Elementary Schools.

The youngest students would go to the current Ceredo Elementary, while the older elementary students would be placed in the building that's currently C-K Middle School.

Current C-K Middle School students would be split up and sent to Buffalo and Vinson.

"The consolidation, is a done deal, on one form or another," says Hurt. "The voter has the power to decide how long that consolidation will last. If we get the ok, for the levy and bond, then we can proceed quickly to build a new Kenova Elementary School."

Monday's meeting is at the Wonderdome in Kenova. It starts at 6:00 p.m.

There will be another informational meeting, for that C-K community.

The next one is Tuesday, October, 29th, at 6:00 at CK Middle School.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 10/22/13 @ 8 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Part of the C-K Autumnfest parade turned into a mini-protest march, as a group of Kenova Elementary teachers voiced there frustration over a plan to close their school.

The reconfiguration plan was announced Tuesday following more than two years of controversy over school property.

However, there are still two major hurdles that need to be jumped.

Tuesday, Wayne County Superintendent Lynn Hurt announced that, pending approval from the Board of Education, Kenova Elementary and Ceredo-Kenova Middle School will close at the end of the school year.

When the closure happens, there will be changes to where students will attend school.

Ceredo Elementary will house Pre-K, Kindergarten and first graders from both Ceredo and Kenova.

C-K Middle students will be split up and sent to Buffalo and Vinson Middle Schools.

C-K Middle will become the new home for Ceredo and Kenova Elementary students in second, third, fourth and fifth grades.

Lugene Jarrell was among the group of teachers in the parade. She's been teaching at Kenova for 39 years. She attended there when she was a child, and her grandkids go there now.

"I'm so upset about this," Jarrell said. "It's just a horrible situation that somebody needs to help us fix quickly."

Laverne Gray says her family moved back to Kenova after four years in Oklahoma because she wanted her granddaughter to return to the close-nit community.

Gray says a large source of reluctance regarding this proposal is the continuing sense of rivalry among the C-K, Buffalo, and Vinson communities.

"it's just not a good idea," Gray said. "There's always been a rivalry between the different places, the different schools and everything."

Vinson Middle School parent Kevin Watts says some Vinson parents are concerned about overcrowding issues, but overall he says they're willing to do what's needed to help.

"These kids are going to be together at Spring Valley in a couple years anyway," Watts said, "so it's nice to get them integrated now."

This all started in May 2011, when sink holes were found on the Kenova Elementary School property and the school was closed, several weeks before summer break was supposed to start.

When students went back to school in the fall of 2011, they were put in modular classrooms. They have been in those classrooms ever since, but the contract on those classrooms runs out at the end of this year.

In fall 2011, many residents were upset when the Wayne County School Board did not apply for grant money to help get the students out of the modulars. At that time, board members said they did not have the deed for the school, which was needed to proceed.

Last December, residents voted down a school bond levy that would have given more than $30 million in improvements in the existing schools, and helped to build two new schools.

According to a press release, Hurt is proposing to have another bond election on the May Primary, asking voters to contribute $16.2 million to match $6 million from the general fund and $16.2 from the West Virginia School Building Authority.

Hurt says this would be less than half of what the voters rejected in December and only includes the most immediate needs of the school systems.

According to the press release, this bond would be enough to build a new Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School and a PreK-8 in Crum.

It would also allow for classrooms to be added at Wayne High School to get rid of modular classes and renovate the main entrance to make it safer.

Community meetings are being scheduled with each school involved.

A meeting will be held Monday, October 28, at 6 p.m. for the Ceredo and Kenova elementary communities. It will be held at the Wonderdome beside Kenova Elementary.

Other meetings will be hold for Ceredo-Kenova Middle School, Buffalo Middle, and Vinson Middle.

No word at this time when the school board will vote on the plan.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 9/20/13
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The old Kenova Elementary School property will go back up on the auction block in November.

The school was shut down in May 2011 after sink holes appeared on the property.

The property was put up for auction in July, with the starting bid at more than $1 million.

Don W. Bias with Kenova City Council says the property did not sell and many said the starting bid was a little too high.

Bias tells WSAZ.com that they will take the asbestos removal off the price tag and lower it to $875,000 and put it back up on the auction block on November 2.

Bias says something needs to be done with the property.

"It's very important. We don't want the property to deteriorate any more than it already has. It's an excellent corner," Bias said. "Route 60 and Route 75 join there. It's the best block in Kenova."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 4/22/13 @ 8:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia's School Building Authority has given a planning grant of $250,000 to the Wayne Board of Education.

"The grant will allow us time to sit down and know exactly what we need to bring to the table," Wayne County Superintendent Lynn Hurt said. "We will be able to take 365 days to plan. However, we hope to fast track that and come back from our December meeting and have our plan ready to been considered."

Wayne County voters rejected a bond last December by a 3-to-1 vote that would have provided money to build a new Kenova Elementary School and Crum Elementary School.

Now the district, which has some money in the Capital Improvement Fund, is trying to find a way to finance what it considers it's two priorities.

Kenova Elementary School is now in its second full year of being housed in modular classrooms. The district has to find an alternative after the old Kenova Elementary was deemed unsafe -- after a sink hole was found on property several years ago.

Now, parents and passersby will notice signs on property, alerting people the end of the modular classrooms is near.

"The faculty paid for those signs out of our own pocket," said Lugene Jarrell, president of the Faculty Senate. "It's gotten attention; we're not going to sit back and wait for something to happen. We want to be proactive and make sure these children's education comes first."

Hurt said the move Monday by the SBA is a step in the right direction.

"We're elated about what's happening here today," Hurt said. "We're looking forward to working with the SBA, their employees, their design experts, and we hope to move forward."

UPDATE 1/28/13 @ 10 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- "One of the worst school buildings in the state," that is how one high ranking state official described Crum Middle School in Wayne County.

Hopes for a new building were crushed last month after a bond issue was defeated by voters.

Now the community is trying to figure out a plan B.

"It's in dire need,” Principal Sherri Brewer said. “It's falling apart."

Brewer says the 74-year-old school is full of leaks, mold, and occasionally backed up sewage.

"There are a lot of times it overflows,” she said. “The entire floor has to be pulled out, pipes are to be repaired."

This problem could have been history, but voters shot down a bond last month that would've led to many projects, including a brand new school in Crum.

Monday night staff and parents met with state and county leaders to go over some options.

School Building Authority Executive Director Mark Manchin says the school could put a smaller bond or levy on the ballot that may have a better chance of passing or try to convince the Wayne County School Board to prioritize the project.

Kenova is also trying to get a new building after sinkhole concerns shut down their old elementary, leaving them operating out of modular classrooms.

A new bond likely wouldn't make it on the ballot any sooner than December.

UPDATE 12/18/12 @ 11:55 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A capacity crowd packed the Wayne County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

While the recently failed bond levy wasn't on the agenda, it was the issue parents, teachers and the community came to talk about.

The $42 million levy would have provided the funds to build two new schools and renovate four others.

The board has set up a meeting with the School Building Authority (SBA) to talk about what options the district might have moving forward.

Board members will meet meet with the SBA on Jan. 7.

UPDATE 12/17/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's back to the drawing board in Wayne County after a bond issue failed by more than 70 percent of the vote.

It would have raised taxes to build two new schools, upgrade three other schools, and put turf on the county's three high school fields.

Even those who were for the issue, weren't surprised it failed.

“I was disappointed in the bond issue failing,” Grandfather Charles Workman said. “These kids ... They need a new school.”

Workman's 7-year-old granddaughter goes to school at Kenova Elementary. He wanted to see the issue pass but understands why it didn't.

“It was just too much of a tax increase,” Workman said. “And the people who don't have kids in school aren't going to go for a tax increase to have Astroturf.”

He thinks there were too many projects in the bond issue. He believes that's a big reason why it failed -- 71 to 29 percent.

“They may have went for the school but not for the Astroturf,” Workman said.

Assistant Superintendent Lynn Hurt says the board was trying to put together a package that would benefit the whole county.

“When you put a bond together, you have to think about what may serve as many people as you can, in order to get the vote,” Hurt said.

As for Workman and his grandkids, while he's not giving up hope of a levy passing eventually he is thinking about what he'll do if it doesn't.

“I have even talked to my wife about it," Workman said. "Even selling out and moving getting closer to a grade school."

The school building authority said if the bond passed, it would spend $20 million in the county.

Since it did not, that money will go toward other counties in West Virginia.

Wayne County can reapply next year.

UPDATE 12/15/12 @ 10:40 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Voters in Wayne County have voted down a school bond levy.

Election officials tell WSAZ.com about 1,700 voted for the bond levy, while more than 4,200 voted against it. One precinct is still being counted, so final numbers are not in just yet.

The bond was for more than $30 million dollars in improvements in existing school and building two new schools in Wayne County.

The School Building Authority would have provided $20 million if the levy would have passed.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for updates.

UPDATE 12/13/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Wayne County voters head to the polls Saturday, December 15, 2012, to decide the fate of the $30 million school bond levy.

If voters say "yes", the WV School Building Authority is pledging an additional $20 million.

"I'm worried if it doesn't pass" says Jenni Butler. She's a parent with a child in Kenova Elementary School. Since the Fall of 2011, the students have been in modular classrooms because the old Kenova School Building was condemned. "It's a no brainer, we need a school for our kids."

The levy is not without controversy because of the tax burden. The Wayne County Assessor, Eric Hodges, took out a full page ad in the Wayne County News to help people figure out what the tax increase would mean to their budgets.

You can see that ad, below, to help you calculate what it means to your particular household.

Steve Alexander lives in Wayne and doesn't think the levy will pass. The money will be used to build two new, much needed schools, but more than $11 million is earmarked for the improvements of four others, mainly for upgraded gymnasiums and field turf. He thiNKs, the price tag is too high.

"It won't pass, I don't think it will," said Alexander. "The taxes with what they're going to do with the money, it just won't pass."

Mark Manchin is the director of the WV School Building Authority who says it's up to voters.

"This is an opportunity that doesn't happen often," Manchin says.

The SBA expected to pitch in an additional $20 million if voters okay the levy.

"$20 million is certainly within reason." says Manchin. "But should the voters of Wayne County say `no', then the other 29 counties that submitted projects, or are requesting funds, then they would be considered, and that money would go to those counties."

The polls are open Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

UPDATE 9/18/12 @ 11 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Some $53 million in school building and improvement projects could soon take place in Wayne County, if voters approve a special school bond election later this year.

Tuesday night the Wayne Board of Education voted to approve a $33 million bond call for the building projects. The bond election will take place Saturday, December 15.

The bond calls for new two schools to be built: A consolidated Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School that serves approximately 600 students, and a new Crum PK-8 that will serve 330 students.

The improvement projects include: new auxiliary gyms with stage areas at Wayne and Tolsia High Schools; artificial football field surfaces at Wayne, Tolsia ,and Spring Valley High Schools; a new multipurpose room with connecting corridors to all existing buildings at Lavalette Elementary.

The board has secured $20 million in School Building Authority grant money that would go toward the new school projects.

In the spring of 2011, Kenova Elementary was shut down because of sinkhole concerns. The board president says they're not sure at this point whether the new consolidated Ceredo-Kenova Elementary would be built.

County residents would see an increase in property taxes if the bond is approved.

UPDATE 11/1/11 @ 11:30 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Parents of Kenova Elementary School students were disappointed to learn Tuesday the Wayne County School Board did not apply for grant money this year for a new school.

This school year, Kenova Elementary Students are learning in modular units because their old building was condemned.

While modular buildings are better than a condemned one, parent Phil Fraley believes a real school means a lot.

"I was a little bit discouraged that the board hadn't applied for the grant, especially since I had been under the impression that the board was on track to do that," Fraley said.

Tuesday was the deadline for grant money from the West Virginia School Building Authority. Wayne County Board Members say they didn’t apply because they still don’t have the deed for the old Ceredo-Kenova High School. They need an architect to help design the building, and they need more money.

"The School Building Authority grants funding, but the county has to have a 25 percent match. And so if you're looking at $20 million, 25 percent of that is quite a bit of money. Right now, we don't have that money," Wayne County Superintendent Gary Adkins said.

The parents supports the board in getting the funding, but they hope in the future to know more about what’s going on.

"I think a part of it is a lack of communication on the part of the board, which is a part of reason why I'm here, and between the community. We get bits and pieces or some information and then we don't have a full picture of what happened,” Fraley said.

The school board hopes to pass a countywide bond levy that would fund all school related projects in Wayne.

The board told parents they believe the new school is still on track to be complete within the next three to five years. They also plan to apply for the grant money next year.

UPDATE 8/15/11
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- In just under a month, 52 modular rooms were configured and connected to utilities -- and the new, but temporary, Kenova Elementary was born.

"We're just excited about our first day of school," says principal Deidre Farley. "I didn't hear one negative comment yesterday when the parents came in. Everybody's pleased with the way it looks and I think everybody's excited about our new school."

The school sits on the old C-K High School sports fields.

Fifth grader Caitlin Null was ready to help the younger kids and get herself acclimated as well.

"I think they're looking at me to have me help them around the new school," said Null.

The mods are leased from, and built by, Williams-Scotsman out of Charleston. But they had plenty of local subcontracting help to make this project happen quickly.

"Everybody has stayed positive," says Deidre Farley, "From the workers, the board, everybody that was here has gone above and beyond. I can't say enough about everybody that helped to get us ready.

There are plans to move all playground gear from the old grade school. The old high school gym also needs an inspection and upgrades before it can be used.

The mods are leased for three years, or until the new school is built.

The temporary project will cost about $2.8 million when all completed.

UPDATE 8/8/11
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Children who attend Kenova Elementary are getting two more days of summer vacation.

The Wayne County Board of Education announced Monday the first day of school for Kenova Elementary students only will now be Monday, August 15.

Classes were to begin on Thursday, but construction on the new modular school is not complete. All other schools in Wayne County will open on schedule this Thursday, August 11.

Superintendent Gary Adkins says in a news release that “in order to properly meet the needs of the students and faculty, the opening must be postponed.

Assistant Superintendent, Don Davis tells WSAZ.com that Kenova teachers should be able to get into their classrooms on Thursday. Davis also says the Fire Marshal is expected to inspect the property on Friday.

As late as last Thursday, school board and project officials thought the new modular classrooms would be ready to go for students this Thursday.

The old building was condemned in the spring because of sink holes. The modular units are being set up at the former Ceredo Kenova High School.

Students and teachers will be housed in the modular classrooms until a new school is built.

UPDATE 8/4/11 @ 8:15 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- From a crumbling, outdated structure to a nice new facility. The temporary new digs that will be the interim Kenova Elementary School are coming together on schedule.

Dozens of modular units are now assembled into a nice, new facility that far outshines the old. It's a school students, teachers and the community say they can be proud of.

“When they first talked about this, I thought it would be like trailers and we've got some dandies,” said Jennings Jarrell, a Kenova resident.

Jennings admits he was a skeptic when talks of a temporary Kenova Elementary made up of modular units started. But, seeing that plan play out into this has made him a believer.

“I was thinking something not as nice as this. This is very, very nice. Everyone should be proud,” said Jennings.

Carl Pelfrey is the project manager for Williams Scotsman. They specialize in what you see here--fully functional buildings assembled one modular at a time.

“This is one section of the cafeteria... You'd think it's a regular structure,” said Pelfrey.

This building will house a total of about 25 classrooms, computer labs and six self-contained kindergarten rooms.

“Each kindergarten room will have their own ADA bathroom so the kids won't have to leave the classrooms,” said Carl.

And just as with any school building, safety is priority one.

“The sprinklers are in. Each teacher can lock every door from the inside in the case of a lockdown. Only the teacher and the principal have a key to the outside so no one can get in these doors once they're locked,” said Carl.

Add in the finishing touches of new driveways and sidewalks and this is building that will be anything but makeshift.

“I'm impressed. These are really nice. Every parent needs to come and take a tour. They should see this,” said Jarrell.

The best news: Carl says construction is right on schedule, if not a day ahead. That means this building will be ready to go a week from today when classes start.

Just in case, the Wayne School District does have a back-up plan.

Administrators say they're feeling pretty confident those plans won't be needed.

UPDATE 7/25/11 @ 11:30 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kenova Elementary’s School’s temporary classrooms are another step closer to opening for the fall.

While they may look more like a construction zone than a classroom, it's possible to see how these modular buildings are the future for Kenova Elementary school -- at least for this year.

The old building was condemned in the spring because of sink holes. The modular units should be set up in about a week. Students and staff will use them until their new school at the former Ceredo-Kenova High School location is complete.

Teachers are due back Aug. 1.

UPDATE 7/20/11
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A big change in the Kenova landscape is underway.

A fleet of modular classrooms are being trucked onto what was once the football and baseball home of the C-K Wonders. 10 of the units made it to Kenova Tuesday, and are currently being installed. The athletic fields at the former high school are now the temporary home for Kenova Elementary School.

The school was shut down in May due to structural issues.

Superintendent Gary Adkins got news of the arrival of the temporary classrooms just before the school board met Tuesday night.

Adkins says he hopes this is a sign the modular style school will be up and running in time for the schools early August start date.

“We have done all we can now it's in the hands of the contractors and the folks that we're leasing these modulars from, and we just want the best education possible for all our kids and that certainly includes Kenova Elementary School," said Adkins.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 6/21/11
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- What do you think should be done with former Kenova Elementary School building?

A community meeting on Thursday will let you give your input.

The meeting is taking place at the Ceredo-Kenova War Memorial Building at 6 p.m.

Structural issues permanently closed the school in May.

Since then, the school district and City of Kenova have reached a deal to make the former Ceredo-Kenova High School site the future home of Kenova Elementary. As a temporary fix, the district will set up modular classroom units on the athletic fields for the students. Long-term, the district plans to build a new school here with space to create a state-of-the-art facility.

W.Va. State Senator Robert Plymale is hosting the meeting.

Wayne County Superintendent, Gary Adkins, School Board President, Rick Queen and Kenova Mayor, Ric Griffith will be among those in attendance to answer your questions.

UPDATE 5/20/11 @ 6 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A new plan has been hatched, and it's on the fast track toward completion -- all after an emergency meeting Thursday between the Wayne County School Board and the city of Kenova.

The good news is Kenova Elementary students will get to stay together at one facility. But, in order for that to happen, the city is going to have to make some concessions, and they don't have much time to get used to the new ideas.

“We had no intent to meet and make big decisions, but the board had a narrow window of opportunity and we accommodated them,” Kenova Mayor Ric Griffith said.

And the clock is ticking. So, Griffith, City Council and the Wayne County School Board made a deal. The old Ceredo-Kenova High School property will now be the future home of Kenova Elementary.

“Had that not been done, Kenova Elementary students would have been dispersed around the county, and that's totally unacceptable,” Griffith said.

Initially, the district will move modular units onto this property for a temporary fix until they can secure the money to build the permanent facility. But, in order for this deal to happen, several quick changes had to take place -- starting with the city signing over the prized C-K High School baseball and football fields to the school board.

“The city had a 99-year lease on fields," Griffith said. "We've relinquished the ball fields so they could bring in mods. That had to happen.”

But, the city has secured other fields in the area to use in the meantime. After the permanent facility is completed and modular units are removed, the fields will be returned to the city for community use.

There are other concerns. Many community programs take place at this site. Griffith says many of those should continue.

“The first priority is the children’s education," Griffith said. "The second priority -- keep the school in Kenova, and the third priority -- maintain the programs for the community."

He went on to say, “I think this is providential that this happened. We're pleased people are patient, and we hope to keep them that way by providing good information in a timely manner.”

The target completion date for the temporary fix for Kenova Elementary is Aug. 11. Between now and then, the district must secure enough modular units to accommodate all of the students. Because of flooding along the Mississippi River, that's become a very competitive process.

UPDATE 5/17/11 @ 11 p.m.
WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The future of Kenova Elementary School was the talk of the town Tuesday at the Wayne County Board of Education Meeting.

Parents, teachers and concerned residents packed into the auditorium at Spring Valley High School to hear from board members and get their questions answered.

One thing that was very apparent: no one seemed to want Ceredo and Kenova elementary schools to consolidate. Wayne County Superintendent Gary Adkins said he was not in favor of a consolidation.

Board of Education members are weighing their options for the next school year. They're talking about using modular classrooms, setting them up on the property next to C-K Middle School in Ceredo, or on the baseball field at the old C-K High School.

They're also tossing around the idea of using the First Baptist Church of Kenova. It's big and has classrooms and the pastor offered it to be of service.

Those options would be temporary -- only for three or four years, board members say, until a new school is built.

At Thursday's meeting, it seemed the board was leaning toward building the new school on the site of the old C-K high school.

Board members say they have to have a definite plan by Nov. 1 to submit to the School Building Authority.

Teachers say they want parents to know education is their top priority.

"The school is not the building, it's the people that are inside, the teachers and the children and parents and the community," Kenova Elementary teacher Lugene Jarrell said. "We're just planning to work together to make a positive out of a negative situation."

Parents of Kenova Elementary School students who don't know what to do with their child during the hours they were supposed to be in school for the next three weeks can find help at First Baptist Church of Kenova.

The church has teamed up with Kenova Principal Deidre Farley and Teacher Beverly Shannon to develop an educational enrichment and childcare program for students for the next three weeks.

It's free to take your children there during school hours, but the church does encourage donations to help pay the college students who have volunteered their time to help.

UPDATE 5/13/11 @ 10:30 a.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Students of Kenova Elementary school will spend next year in modular classrooms because concerns over a sink hole and student safety closed the old Kenova Elementary school.

Thursday, May 12 was the final day of school.

"It's my understanding they won't be modular free standing rooms," says Assistant Superintendent Mike Rutherford. "The buildings will be connected with hallways."

Specific details are still being worked out because the school was abruptly closed because of sink hole damage.

"We have a million dollar investment in the latest technology for our students," Rutherford said. "We want to ensure parents the classrooms will have all of that technology like smart boards and high speed computer access."

The temporary classrooms will be housed on the property of CK Middle School. As of right now, logistics are still being worked out for parking, additional buses and scheduling.

A school board meeting will be held Tuesday night, May 17 at Spring Valley High School. Parents who may have specific questions are encouraged to attend. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Also, if you were scheduled to vote on Saturday at Kenova Elementary you will now vote at the Fire Department.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 5/12/11 @ 11 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A school deemed unsafe has been closed, leaving students out for the summer four weeks early.

Thursday, May 12 was the last day ever for Kenova Elementary School. Wayne County Superintendent Gary Adkins told WSAZ.com the harsh winter and bad rainstorms the region saw in the past few months are to blame. He said sinkholes are forming under and around the school building.

"Safety first, it's all about the kids," Adkins said. "The architect and the structural engineer felt it was safe for the rest of the year but weren't willing to put their name on a letter stating that."

Without that certainty and without an alternative place to go, the Board of Education decided to end school a month in advance. Adkins and Kenova Elementary School Principal Deidre told WSAZ.com they both feel comfortable that all their students are prepared for the next year of school and missing this last month won't hurt them, long term.

The students were supposed to take the state mandated WESTEST May 16, but it too has been canceled.

"The students are exempt from the WESTEST," Adkins said. "A lot of things are measured through the WESTEST, but we have benchmark tests that have already been done and we can use that information."

Beverly Shannon's been a teacher for forty years at Kenova. She'll tell anyone: her classroom is her home.

"I cried, I couldn't believe it. I was devastated," Shannon said. "It took me a few minutes to grasp really what was going on, but I think in the long run it's going to be something that's very positive for our children and community because we need a new school."

Adkins said the BOE has a few ideas for what to do next fall, but plans aren't set in stone.

Because the students and teachers didn't get a chance to say goodbye, Principal Farley is planning a special field trip day for the whole school where everyone can get together and say goodbye.

Until the end of the regular school year, someone from the BOE and many teachers will be at the school every day, so students may pick up personal items.

ORIGINAL STORY 5/12/11 @ 3 p.m.
KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An abrupt end to the school year for students at Kenova Elementary in Wayne County.

Thursday (today) is now the last day after sink holes show up on school property, according to a letter to parents from Superintendent, Gary Adkins and Kenova Principal, Deidre Farley.

The letter states that the sink holes appear to be the result of the recent heavy rains. Adkins goes on to say, while structural engineers believe the school is safe for now, “the Wayne County Board of Education and I have decided to err on the side of caution.”

The letter says the WV Department of Education was consulted on the issue to close for school year.

The superintendent tells WSAZ.com the County had been checking out the problem for the last few weeks and made the decision early Thursday morning. Teachers and students were notified at the end of the school day.

The school was going to look for a suitable location to hold the WESTEST, but decided that they were not going to hold the test this year and the students would be exempt.

The Wayne County School Board plans to discuss the situation at its meeting Tuesday night.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.

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