Consolidation plan unveiled for pair of flooded Kanawha Co. elementary schools

Published: Jan. 23, 2017 at 11:43 PM EST
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- School officials in Kanawha County will recommend consolidation as a long-term solution for two elementary school buildings damaged by this summer's flooding.

Superintendent Dr. Ron Duerring made the announcement at a special school community meeting Monday night at Elkview Middle School.

The plan -- which still needs school board approval -- would put students from Clendenin Elementary School and Bridge Elementary School under one roof in an entirely new building.

According to Dr. Duerring, Clendenin Elementary, which was destroyed in the flooding, was built to house nearly 700 students. So, even though enrollment has dropped, FEMA will pay for a modern school that size; large enough to house students from both schools.

Dr. Duerring says Clendenin Elementary, which was destroyed in the flooding, cannot be rebuilt near the area that flooded. Meanwhile, Bridge Elementary, which was damaged but salvaged for elementary students for use this school year, cannot replace its destroyed playground in the vicinity with FEMA funds. Considering all factors, Dr. Duerring and other school leaders say consolidation is the best option.

"None of us on this board or any of the administration wanted this to happen, but it's a situation we have to deal with," School Board President Jim Crawford said. "Sometimes it's unpleasant, but we're tying to make the best outcome out of this."

A site for the new building has not been finalized yet. But, school officials say, their top choice is on Hokie Lane near Falling Rock. About halfway between Elkview and Clendenin, it's a location that comes a disappointment to many neighbors who wanted to keep students closer to home.

Still, other parents are excited about the chance for a new school building. Officials say the new facility would be state-of-the-art and place a high priority on new technology; trying to provide a 1-to-1 student-to-technology ratio.

"I think it could be a good thing," parent Shannon Hall said. "I think it'll be nice for them to be in a new building with new technology have proper seats and toys and a playground again; the things they need to enjoy because grade school is the only time you get to have the fun things."

Officials say a special committee, made up of teachers and community members from both Clendenin and Bridge Elementaries would be brought together to decide on what elements from each school would be retained in the new building. The committee would also decide on a new name for the building.

During a community question-and-answer session, school officials admitted having one school instead of two could mean staff cuts. They say they have not yet outlined details about what positions they would and would not need.

As for plans for rebuilding Herbert Hoover High School, officials say they are still trying to finalize a location for a separate new high school.

School leaders say their first choice is on Given Fork along Frame Road.

Officials say they are working on contacting and will need to make deals with the current property owners for each new school site.

Monday's meeting also provided the community with an update on plans for portable classrooms.

School officials say construction, building modular units for Clendenin Elementary students outside of Bridge Elementary School, will begin Wednesday, with completion scheduled for March.

Meanwhile, portable plans for Herbert Hoover High School students have hit a snag.

Officials say incorrectly mapped gas lines on the modular campus location, outside of Elkview Middle School, means they had to submit a new plan to FEMA and are awaiting approval before they can get to work.

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