Persistence paid off for Fayette County school officials Monday.

When the state School Building Authority announced $66,799,569 in projects it will finance during its coming funding cycle, the county was earmarked for money for a new elementary school in the Oak Hill area. The positive outcome occurred after Fayette came away empty-handed in 2002 and 2003 in its SBA requests.

Superintendent Helen Whitehair, Steve Pilato, president of the local board of education, and Missey Smith, board vice president, made the trip to Charleston to take in the SBA’s deliberations, and at the end of the day Monday, Fayette was among those with its name still on the board and, therefore, earning a seal of approval from the SBA.

“I felt pretty confident,” Pilato said shortly after the decision. “We learned from the first two failures ... to talk to the right people.

“Apparently, we’ve done that.”

Fayette officials requested $9,099,000 to construct a new elementary school which will combine the student bodies of three existing elementaries — Oak Hill, Oak Hill East End and Scarbro — into one facility. The resulting student population will be about 675 in grades K-4.

The county will receive its funding in a two-year cycle, with $4,383,540 targeted for July 2006 and a similar amount to be forwarded in July 2007. The county will kick in the remaining $331,000 to the project, Whitehair said.

“I am so pleased,” the superintendent declared. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the county, for Oak Hill and for the students.”

Smith called Monday “a great day for Fayette County.”

“We pretty much funded (Fayette’s) full amount, but over a two-year period,” explained Dr. Clacy Williams, SBA executive director. “Fayette’s project will get rid of some old buildings that have problems ... and get those students into a new building.

“That’s a good thing.”

The first installment will enable the county to proceed with design and other preliminary steps before construction begins, officials say. The earliest students could be in the new school would be the 2008-09 school year.

Other area school systems also came away smiling Monday. Raleigh County was awarded $5.3 million from current funds available for the new Fairdale Elementary School, and Summers County was awarded $3,394,936 for a new elementary school at Talcott.

Also receiving money will be Monroe County, which will get $621,235 for renovations to the Monroe County Technical Center, and Wyoming County, which will receive $704,388 for renovations to Berlin McKinney Elementary School.

All told, 25 counties got some sort of funding. The largest financial package doled out was $5,735,193 to Hardy County for the new Moorefield Intermediate School.

— E-mail: skeenan@fayettetribune.com

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