Brooke school board meets with BDC director

WELLSBURG — At a special work session Wednesday the Brooke County Board of Education met with the director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, approved a handful of hirings and discussed its travel policy for student groups.

The board met in executive session with BDC Executive Director Pat Ford to discuss efforts to find potential buyers for the Follansbee and Wellsburg middle school sites.

In May the board agreed to pay the economic development organization $3,000 per month for a year to market the two properties for sale after the county’s new middle school is completed.

Following the executive session, Ford said he had no announcements to make at this time, but added interest has been expressed in using the buildings for housing or sales offices.

Ford said the buildings’ locations make them attractive. Follansbee Middle School faces state Route 2, while Wellsburg Middle School stands near the Ohio River.

Both schools were built in the 1920s, though the Carlin Dodrill Field House was added to the Follansbee school in 1955. The school and field house occupy 67,098 square feet of a 90,638-square-foot lot.

Wellsburg Middle School is 69,212 square foot and sits on a 70,828-square-foot lot.

Brooke County school officials expressed concern that if left unused, the buildings could fall into disrepair and become eyesores, but the board has been advised it could cost at least $500,000 to raze the two buildings.

In related business, the board agreed to extend the contract for Massaro Construction Management in overseeing construction of the new middle school at a cost of $99,196 for three-and-a-half months.

Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities director, said about 60 percent of that amount will be paid by the state School Building Authority and the project remains within budget.

Under construction near the west entrance to Brooke High School, the new school is being funded with $15 million from the state SBA and $15 million generated by a 15-year bond issue approved by voters in 2014.

Robinson said the project is on schedule, with substantial completion expected to be met by Dec. 1.

He said sidewalks for the school have been poured, and ceiling tile and flooring are being installed, with kitchen equipment expected to arrive next week.

Robinson said there’s still more to do, with the floor and windows for the school’s gym still to come, and the school’s furniture not expected until late February or March.

But he said the school is expected to open in fall 2018 as planned.

On Wednesday the board also discussed placing restrictions on extended trips by student groups for competitive or invitational events.

The board had tabled a proposed policy limiting such trips to once in four years.

Assistant Superintendent Nicole Ennis said currently only travel by the high school’s marching band is restricted, with national competitions limited to every other year, while the group is allowed to compete in several regional events annually.

She said with some athletic teams traveling to Disney World for competitions, some parents have asked for family trips to the amusement park to be considered an excused absence.

Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute said the goal is to establish consistency for travel by all groups. She said if approved, the plan would be implemented with the next incoming freshman class.

Jim Lazear, the board’s vice president, expressed concern that with a four-year restriction, students could miss opportunities to compete nationally.

Board member Antoinette Perkins suggested a two-year restriction instead, and the policy was referred to William Rosier, the school board’s educational consultant.

The board also approved the hiring of Jerid Withers as a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Wellsburg Middle School, Rebecca Beabout as an eighth-grade science teacher at Wellsburg Middle School and Donald Hall as a custodian at Colliers Primary School.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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