UPDATE: School Board Votes to Save Davis Creek Elementary

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UPDATE 7/8/15 @ 6:20 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After voting Tuesday to keep Davis Creek Elementary open, the Cabell County School Board will now have to tackle the remaining issues at the school.

The board voted 3-2 against Superintendent William Smith's recommendation, which was to consolidate Davis Creek Elementary School by closing its doors and sending its students to the newer Martha Elementary School.

Davis Creek was on the chopping block because of the age and condition of the building.

The immediate concern that needs to be addressed, according to Cabell Schools Spokesperson Jedd Flowers, is the outdated fire alarm system. He said the school is working with the State Fire Marshal to come up with a solution, like installing sprinklers.

However, in the meantime, Flowers said the building is safe and up to code.

"We do pay attention to the facility," Flowers said. "I don't think it's something a parent has to worry about."

Other problems they will address down the road: traffic and flooding issues outside the school.

"Those are going to be long-term issues that we're going to have to look at in our 10-year comprehensive education facilities plan," Flowers said. "We're going to have to look at the plan and say, OK, we didn't do this now. When are we going to do it?'"

And then, there's always the chance that the school could be up for closure again in the future.

"That building isn't going to last forever, and so we are going to have to look at what is going to be done down the road," Flowers said.

Overall, Flowers estimates renovations will cost about $250,000. But none of that will be covered by bond money.

"The money that's left over is from the bond call in 2006, so it has to be used for the bond call schools," Flowers said.

And Davis Creek is not one of them. So any money they need right away will come from the Cabell County Permanent Improvements fund, which also funds maintenance for all other buildings in the district.

"There will be limits on what we can do," Flowers said. "We'll do what we have to to make sure that the building is safe for occupancy."

Years from now, once the current bond is up, Flowers said the next bond could be used to build a new Davis Creek Elementary.

"You know, we'll do what we have to to make sure the building is safe for occupancy. But we're not going to be able to build a new building at this point," Flowers said.

As for that $4 million of bond-surplus money from the current bond, the board had to find a way to spend it. They had four options to choose from, and after Tuesday's vote, the money will go toward the needs of other schools.

The following schools were all built or renovated with 2006 bond money:

  • Martha Elementary
  • Southside Elementary
  • Huntington Middle School
  • Barboursville Middle School
  • Milton Middle School

Superintendent William Smith recommended that the board vote in favor for the first option, which would close Davis Creek and expand Martha with a new gym, cafeteria, and new classrooms. Even though the board didn't vote in his favor, Smith said he didn't see it as a loss.

"These options were viable options and what was good about this was that the board was in agreement," Smith said.

They expect to visit those schools once they're back in session in the fall and expect to use the money within the next year.

Flowers said the district will establish a criteria for which projects will get funding first.

"We're going to first look at things that regulatory agencies have told us that are needed at those buildings or things that address safety concerns at those buildings," Flowers said.

After that, projects like athletic fields and locker rooms may come next.

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ORIGINAL STORY 7/7/15 @ 11:30 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Cabell County School Board voted Tuesday night not to close Davis Creek Elementary School.

The board voted 3-2 against Superintendent William Smith's recommendation to consolidate Davis Creek Elementary School by closing its doors and sending its students to Martha Elementary School.

Parents and teachers breathed a sigh of relief once board members made their decision.

"When we started out, we were just little Davids fighting against a giant board of Goliaths, and it just shows that our hard work and being dedicated paid off," said Davis Creek Aid and former parent Rebecca Powers.

The school was on the chopping block because of rundown and old facilities.

Rebecca Powers was one of the dozens of Davis Creek supporters who showed up at the meeting, hoping the board would show up for support.

"They were open. They listened to everything we had to say. It was respected on both sides," Powers said.

Three of the five board members did just that when they voted against the superintendent's recommendation to close the school.

The board had to find a way to spend nearly $4 million of bond-surplus money, and after Tuesday's vote the money will go toward the needs of other schools.

They had four options to choose from. Smith recommended that the board vote in favor for the first option, which would close Davis Creek and expand Martha with a new gym, cafeteria, and new classrooms. Even though the board didn't vote in his favor, Superintendent Smith said he didn't see it as a loss.

"These options were viable options and what was good about this was that the board was in agreement," Smith said.

It was an agreement that brought the Davis Creek crowd to tears.

"Relief and joy. Tears were flowing," Powers said. "I couldn't stop the tears."

The board's next step is to visit each school and evaluate what kind of renovation is needed. The money will only be allotted to schools that were constructed with bond money.

They expect to visit those schools once they're back in session in the fall and expect to use the money within the next year.



 
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