Jefferson County Schools (JCS) manages 16 schools — 2 high schools, 4 middle schools, and 10 elementary facilities. In the November 2020 election, 62 percent of the Jefferson County voters casting ballots supported a $43.7 million bond for school construction and improvement. In April 2021, the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) approved a grant of $7.5 million to be used for construction of two new elementary schools to replace the Ranson and Shepherdstown elementary schools. According to the documents Jefferson County Schools filed with the SBA in January & February of 2021 (click here to download PDF), the local funds committment (from the bond) would be $32.5 million and the proposed total budget for the construction projects for both schools would be $40 million (excluding the previous purchases of the the two properties).
A New Ranson Elementary School
Documents from the West Virginia School Building Authority describes the current Ranson Elementary School building as “antiquated,” and supports “immediate replacement.” The SBA documents 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 by Jefferson County voters 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).
Read more about the Ranson Elementary School replacement project.
A New Shepherdstown Elementary School
Documents from the West Virginia School Building Authority 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 by Jefferson County voters 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.
Read more about the Shepherdtown Elementary School replacement project.
Staff Asks Board To Choose Utility Option For Shepherdstown School
At a school board meeting on November 14 2022, Superintendent Bondi Shay Gibson-Learn, along with Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joyce White presented the Board with a choice — a public utility option versus an on-site well and septic/treatment facility for the Shepherdstown school project. “Some things have come to light” was how Gibson-Learn introduced the question, suggesting that circumstances had changed regarding the utility connection options.
Gibson-Learn indicated the school system had not anticipated it would need to manage the construction of the water and sewer lines, which also includes the need to obtain easements from private property owners along a one mile stretch of Shepherdstown Pike to connect the new pipes into the existing utility network. Randy Jones of ZMM, the architect working on the project for the past two years, assured the board that the typical practice in West Virginia would be for the local utility to perform this construction work for the school.
At the school board meeting on November 28 2022, board member Mark Osborne commented that “we [the board] were misinformed” and Deputy Superintendent White backed away from the previous assertions that the choice before the board was due to Shepherdstown’s changes. Instead, White characterized the on-site utility option as a potential cost-saving choice, to offset expected cost increases in the building construction. White did not provide the Board with a timetable for when she expected to receive bids for the building construction, but she did share in response to another question that the construction costs on school projects elsewhere in the state have been running 25 percent higher than the initial planning budgets due to inflation and cost increases. That would amount potentially to an additional $4.5 million for the Shepherdstown project.
Read more about the November 2022 Board of Ed discussions.
Page revision: Dec 7 2022 (November BOE meeting discussions).