Jefferson County Schools (JCS) manages 16 schools — 2 high schools, 4 middle schools, and 10 elementary facilities — and during the 2020-21 school year enrolled 8,478 students. Jefferson County is one of only three counties in West Virginia that expects growth in student population over the next four years. Local school systems are responsible for planning and constructing new facilities in their districts. These planning and construction activities must follow the rules established by both the School Building Authority of West Virginia and State Board of Education.
The School Building Authority of West Virginia, guided by the Handbook on Planning School Facilities (Policy 6200), oversees the process of designing and building all school facilities in the state. Policy 6200, published by the State Board of Education, mandates a specific process for hiring architects, creating building designs, hiring contractors, and the overall process of managing construction projects. It also provides very detailed requirements for the components to be included in each building — from classroom sizes to the number of bookshelves and the types of window shades.
A Ten Year Plan
Policy 6200 also requires local school systems to prepare and update a Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) every ten years. The Jefferson County Schools 2020-2030 Facilities Plan was drafted by the school system staff in 2019 and presented for comment at four public hearings at each middle school that year.
The final Facilities Plan was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education in February 2021 and approved by the West Virginia School Building Authority in March 2021. The plan identified repair and/or upgrade projects for each facility where feasible and/or economical. For the Ranson and Shepherdstown elementary facilities, the plan instead proposed building new facilities.
A Timeline for Completion
County voters approved issuing bonds for both the Ranson and Shepherdstown elementary school construction projects as specific line items on the November 2020 ballot. In April 2021, the state’s School Building Authority approved a single state grant of $7.5 million to cover both projects. The conditions of the School Building Authority grant requires both projects to be substantially complete within 28 months of the grant (August 2023).
Information sources for the information in this article: JCS 2020-2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP), Building Review and Recommendations Report; JCS CEFP Update (May 2019, prepared by OWPR Architects); School Building Authority of West Virginia documents (2021 Needs Project Comments by School Building Authority Staff, Superintendent Interviews); JCS Enrollment Projections Dashboard; discussions with JCS staff.
Shepherdstown Elementary School — Too Costly to Repair
The School Building Authority of West Virginia (SBA) describes the current Shepherdstown Elementary School building as “antiquated,” and supports “immediate replacement.”
The SBA notes many health and safety deficiencies, including failure to meet current indoor air quality and entrance security standards. The school does not have space to accommodate pre-kindergarten students. While the site meets (barely) the size requirements for the elementary school program, the building condition is very poor, with the cost of known repairs exceeding 30 percent of the estimated replacement cost of the building.
The capital improvement bond approved in November 2020 included $16.1 million in funds to construct a new facility on a new 98-acre site (which could fit a future middle school as well).
The school system intends to sell the current property when the new school facility is operational.
|A Quick Look at Shepherdstown Elementary School|
|Year Built: 1957|
Current Enrollment: 414
Future Program Capacity: 566
About the Building:
52,000 square feet. Issues: water leaks in roof; energy inefficient (windows are 1 ply glass); heating/cooling malfunctions; overall deterioration in interior finishes; office location is remote from main door (security concern); bathrooms not ADA compliant; electrical system deficiencies.
About the Site:
8 acres. Issues: no buffer to surrounding residences, small playground area, bus and vehicles traffic patterns overlap, limited parking on site.
Cost to Address Existing Building Issues: 6.4 million
The project to relocate the elementary school program to a new site for the 2023-24 school year has been approved by the West Virginia School Building Authority. Land for the new school, a 98 acre parcel located on Shepherdstown Pike just north of Gardners Lane, was acquired in January 2018 for $975,125.
Shepherdstown Middle School — Staying Put for Now
The Jefferson County Schools 2020-2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) notes that the Shepherdstown Middle School facility needs repair and staff note excessive maintenance needs. It also notes that the 8 acre site is smaller than the state’s current recommended minimum of 11 acres for a middle school.
The site concept plan for the replacement Shepherdstown Elementary School proposes a campus to include a future middle school on the 98 acre parcel off Shepherdstown Pike (just north of Gardners Lane), however the CEFP does not currently include any recommendation to relocate the middle school program within the 2020-2030 window
|A Quick Look at Shepherdstown Middle School|
|Year Built: 1928 (additions in 1956, 1960, 1975, 1991, 1993)|
Current Enrollment: 337
Future Program Capacity: 420
About the Building:
53,000 square feet. Issues: main entrance not ADA accessible. Roof leaks. Plumbing requires excessive maintenance.
About the Site:
8.8 acres (below current West Virginia standards). Issues: insufficient play field. Insufficient staff parking. Bus loading is on public street.
Cost to Address Existing Building Issues: $2.7 million.
Roof replacement, security improvements, restroom upgrades, new bleachers. The Jefferson County Schools 2020-2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan does not include any plan to relocate the middle school program from the current site.
Ranson Elementary School — Bursting at the Seams
|Year built: 1957|
Current enrollment: 382
Future Program capacity: 555
About the Building:
35,401 square feet. Issues: water leaks; cracked wall; restrooms not ADA compliant; energy inefficient windows.
About the Site:
4.29 acres. Issues: no buffer to surrounding residences; insufficient staff parking; playground space is limited (and utilized by portable classroom units).
Cost to Address Existing Building Issues: $1.1 million.
The project to relocate the elementary school program to a new site (see below) for site for the 2023-24 school year has been approved by the West Virginia School Building Authority. Land for the new school (below) was purchased in January 2018. The new site is approximately 150 acres and is located off of Mildred Street (Rt 115) north of Old Leetown Pike.
The School Building Authority of West Virginia (SBA) describes the current Ranson Elementary School building as “antiquated,” and supports “immediate replacement.”
The SBA notes many health and safety deficiencies, including failure to meet current indoor air quality and entrance security standards. The school does not have space to accommodate pre-kindergarten students. While some of the building deficiencies could be addressed at a reasonable cost, the small size of the site does not allow for any additions and is too small for the existing activities.
The capital improvement bond approved in November 2020 included $16.4 million in funds to construct a new facility on a new 150 acre site.
The school system intends to repurpose the current building to provide other school services (for special needs students, adult education, or other programs).By Staff Contributor