Gauley Bridge Primary School is expected to close at the end of the current school year.
At a meeting on September 14, the Fayette County Education Council voted to release a legal announcement related to the impending closure of K-5 Elementary School, as well as making the document available to closed for public review. The closure proposal is in line with a recent update to the comprehensive 10-year plan for the county’s educational institutions, which was adopted in late 2020.
Upon closure, current GBES students will move approximately 10 miles west to regroup with Valley PK-8 in Smithers starting in the 2022-2023 school year.
The closure of GBES, if it goes as proposed, would leave Valley PK-8 as the only school still operational in the Valley district of the county.
A segment of the reasons and supporting data for the closure reads: “Due to continued decline in student enrollment, restrictive state laws and policies governing education class sizes special, mandates for new / additional program and program offerings, and aging facilities, there is a need to continue to downsize the system in order to pursue quality educational programs for Fayette County students and to remain in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. “
For this reason, the closure of GBES at the end of the 2021-2022 mandate has been recommended. Public hearing dates are scheduled for November 2 (Gauley Bridge) and November 3 (Valley), both of which are set for 6 p.m. Possible scenarios for continuing the hearing are discussed in the document. The final vote on the closure is scheduled for November 4.
Declining enrollment and the prohibitive cost of various physical infrastructure improvements at the Gauley Bridge building, constructed in 1976, were among the main factors presented in the paper calling for the school’s closure. The document also highlighted an overall decline (7.7% decrease from 2010 to 2020) in the population of Fayette County, financial constraints in Fayette County, maximization of the use and functioning of school capacity, and a projected analysis of the improvement of the educational program.
Schools in Fayette County saw a 17.1 percent drop in enrollment (6,827 students to 5,659 students) from 2010-11 to 2020-21.
At Gauley Bridge, the cumulative decline was 71% over the 10-year period, according to the document. The number of registrations for the GBES of the second month in October 2020 was 77, while the number of registrations at the time of the preparation of the closing document (not the official figure of the second month for 2021, which is still pending) was 52.
In 2012-13, the number of GBES registrations was 180. Over a 10-year cycle, it peaked at 207 in 2014-15 and 2015-16. It dropped below the 100-94 mark in 2019-2020 before finally rising to the current unofficial total of 52 students.
Physical assessments of Gauley Bridge Elementary School and PK-8 Valley in 2019 revealed HVAC issues, lack of a secure entrance, and flooring, lighting and door issues at GBES .
Valley had similar issues with the HVAC, floor, doors, and electrical issues. Many issues in Valley have since been resolved as a new secure entrance to a school is completed, a new state-of-the-art PK / K Career Tech (CTE) academy is completed, and electrical work is done. A new roof and HVAC are included in the CEFP projects planned for the next two years. The replacement of the HVAC is “clearly a need for this (de la VallÃ©e) facility”. The cost of the HVAC is estimated at $ 3,837,000, while the roof is expected to cost $ 882,000.
According to the document, the cost of renovations to bring GBES to code would be $ 1,422,896. GBES has a high Energy Consumption Index (EUI) of 76, while Valley’s is 54. EUI is a basic measure of a facility’s energy performance per square foot. The higher the UIE, the less efficient a building.
According to CEFP 2020-30, Gauley’s operational capacity is 202, and the current enrollment count of 52 only reaches 26% utilization. Valley PK-8 has an operating capacity of 1,030, and the current number of 509 registrants reaches 49% utilization. No Valley renovations will be necessary to accommodate Gauley Bridge students.
The move to Smithers, the document notes, will allow Gauley Bridge students to benefit from enhanced educational opportunities, including access to the PK / K Career Tech (CTE) academy, teaching by staff members full-time in the areas of music, art, wellness and counseling, access to a STEM / STEAM lab and access to healthcare at the New River Health facility at Smithers Gateway Center.
The current GBES staff includes a director, 6.4 teachers and four service staff. Combined with the current strength of Valley PK-8, there are three administrators, 40 teachers and 21 service staff. The staff expected after the closure will reflect a reduction of one administrator, five teachers and three service staff.
If the Gauley Bridge building closes, it will be turned over to a 501 (c) (3) organization, as was the FCS procedure.
The closing documents were reportedly presented to the principals of the two schools, as well as to the president of the LSIC of each, last week.
The original was posted September 17 at the Superintendent’s Office, 111 Fayette Ave., Fayetteville WV 25840 and will remain posted until October 29. 3.
In May 2021, Fayette’s board of directors voted to close Divide and Ansted elementary schools, which were each built in the 1950s. At the time of the vote, those closures were scheduled for the end of the 2022 school year. -2023, and the student body of these two schools is expected to come together in the proposal of Midland Trail Elementary School, a PK-5 school that is considering the campus of Midland Trail High School in Hico. Superintendent Gary Hough recently said this will likely continue until 2024.
At the time of the Ansted-Divide closure vote, the estimated price for the new structure in Hico was in the range of $ 15 to $ 18 million, school officials said. The expected cost had increased from its initial estimate due to inflation.
Fayette County school officials plan to apply for funding to build the new school at a State School Building Authority meeting later this year. And, Hough said the school system is aiming to leverage funds from a Continuous Capital Improvement Fund to supplement any potential SBA awards. SBA funding for the project is not guaranteed.
The existing Meadow Bridge Elementary School will also eventually be phased out to help accommodate the planned Meadow Bridge PK-12 Regional School.
E-mail: [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @gb_scribe