The SBA’s building authority denies Fayette County’s school consolidation plan partly because the county has failed to pass a school bond. Why haven’t Fayette County residents passed a bond

Fayette County has the 13th highest poverty rate in the state at 21.2%. The poverty rate in the communities most in need of school facilities is above 30%.

Fayette County also had the 9th lowest Median Household Income in the state at $33,771. The per capita income in Mount Hope and Meadow Bridge in 1999 was $11,147 and $12,526 respectively.

In August of 2015, Fayette County had the 10th highest number of unemployed persons in the state at 1,500, a number that is fairly consistent throughout the year.

Despite the above statistics and the fact that Fayette County is the 6th largest county in total area and the 10th largest in population, Fayette County is frequently denied access to basic services that would improve economic conditions. As a result, residents are required to travel to neighboring counties for basic services.

Workforce West Virginia, the state agency that oversees the state unemployment insurance program as well as a network of workforce development services, does not operate a service center in Fayette County. These service centers are placed instead in counties with one-fourth the population and unemployed persons of Fayette County. The absence of a service center denies access to millions of dollars in state and federally funded programs that could reverse economic conditions in the county.

The SBA’s failure to support the school consolidation plan effectively turns Fayette County into an education desert, considering the absence of a NRCTC campus and the pending departure of WVU Tech. What the SBA and other leaders should understand is Fayette County residents cannot endure a bond until a reasonable effort is made to reverse the decades of economic neglect the county has endured.

Considering the county’s contribution to the statewide economy, its citizens are not only entitled to better access to programs and services, but to a reasonable SBA decision as well.

Stewart Payne

Mount Hope

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