OAK HILL — At the end of a four-month, arduous journey, the Fayette County Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan review committee voted down both plans still left on the table Tuesday.
Patricia Dickerson summed it up, “Now we are back where we started.”
“Do you think our founding fathers ever envisioned the Democratic process being carried out like this?,” asked Geoff Heeter.
Without developing an amendment, the existing CEFP will remain unchanged.
Heeter explained that the existing comprehensive plan was meant to be an evolving process with amendments added every few years. Without updates, the current CEFP contains inherent oversights and is, essentially, incomplete.
The committee spent more than two hours Thursday painstakingly tweaking both plans by ballot before the overall vote.
For instance, cost estimates from Williamson Shriver Architects showed Ansted Elementary would cost more to renovate and build new construction. The committee voted for both plans to reflect a new school.
Several line items were voted on individually, including the last ditch effort to make Meadow Bridge a Pre-K though grade 12 school, which nearly passed 12 to 10.
Of the 55 member committee, less than half attended Tuesday’s meeting and some abstained from voting on individual line items or overall plans.
“I’ve never voted on either of these plans and I’m not going to vote for these tonight. I don’t think they are good plans,” said Carla Torres. “Neither of these plans is significantly different from the existing CEFP. We haven’t gotten anywhere and I’m not sure why, because we have worked hard.”
“I’ve gone through all our notes, come to every meeting, argued about it over the weekend and prayed about it,” said Teri Harlan. “I can’t get to a place where I feel good about either of these plans. I think our kids deserve a new high school, but it will never happen. We are wasting our time, which is very sad.”
Several members felt that both plans left were poor options, but the only ones that had a chance to pass the committee.
“You could have put up 75 plans and it wouldn’t have mattered. These two would have been the only two voted in,” said Randall Patterson.
He reiterated that the finance and transportation subcommittee brought forth plans, including priority phases two weeks ago.
“We wanted to share a plan that we could start to do without a bond and show the state we are doing something, but our recommendations were rejected and these two plans put up instead,” said Patterson.
Some felt the review committee outcome represented little compromise from communities who rally when they feel their local schools are threatened.
“The state hears a lot, but make sure they hear from you. Let the state know there are different opinions in this county, because I don’t think there is anyone here that will tell you that we can pass a bond — and our kids are failing,” said Cindy Beeson
As the meeting slipped into paired conversations, Architect Ted Shriver exerted great effort to keep the meeting on track and working toward a solution.
“If you are not listening, it is going to be impossible to make your vote count. We have talked since August about what is important for children and teachers in Fayette County. You have to listen,” he said adamantly.
Bill Lanham asked the group to consider state acreage guidelines and examine where the county’s current land assets are. For instance, there are 40 available acres at Fayetteville High School, enough to build a new elementary school and create a safe environment for teachers and students.
Shriver said that after plans were finalized, land would have to be assessed and acquired, as needed.
Superintendent Dr. Serena Starcher is expected to share the review committee outcomes with the West Virginia Board of Education at their Dec. 10 meeting.
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