I have been reading with great interest the problems the Fayette County Board of Education has been having to improve the school system, especially building new schools to replace outdated buildings that were built 50, 60 or 70 years ago.
At least 80 to 90 percent of the schools and other supporting structures need to be replaced. We need to stop putting bandages on these buildings and replace them with more modern structures that will provide our children with the first class education they need and help prepare them for the future.
All of the surrounding counties have, in the last 30 to 40 years, replaced old schools with new modern consolidated schools. I can only think of three schools that have been built in our county, Midland Trail and Valley high and New River Elementary.
According to the state board of education, we have too many high schools based on enrollment, which is about half what it was in 1970. Fayette needs to face the reality that we cannot continue maintaining buildings that have lower enrollment. That was reason for closing Mount Hope High and now we have an over-crowded Oak Hill High and it has gotten worse with the addition of the Collins Middle eighth graders.
Southern West Virginia has a great opportunity to provide our high school graduates a place to get a good college education. However, Fayette needs new schools that will prepare students for the future and the ability to attend these schools.
Fayette County voters have a choice. Say no and continue living in a county that will continue to fail with its educational system. Then more than brick and mortal will be falling. More money will continue to be spent to maintain these buildings. It’s like burning money in the old coal furnaces that some of schools still have.
I believe the only choice is to say yes. Voting yes will begin the process of improving the educational system in Fayette County. It will mean that students that graduates from your high schools will become your employees who are well-educated. It will mean more businesses for Fayette County. It hopefully means an increase in the growth in our county.
It is up to us to say yes, Fayette County. I want a better education for our children and grandchildren. It will bring new jobs, and also help reduce crime and drugs.
When the bond issue comes, vote yes!
Philip M. Hutchison