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State should assist with Brooke High repairs

Give members of the Brooke County Board of Education credit for one thing — determination to get the school system back on track. Some people would have thrown up their hands and resigned from the board long ago, in the face of seemingly endless challenges.

Yes, there is a new one. It was made known during a public hearing Tuesday, about a new 10-year school facilities plan the county is required to submit to the West Virginia Department of Education.

Various scenarios for the long term were discussed. But as Steve Mitchell, the school system’s supervisor of buildings and grounds, noted, there is a more immediate concern.

Brooke High School’s roof is leaking, he said. There also are plumbing problems at the facility, he added.

It is unlikely any of the proposed 10-year plans can be implemented soon, for various reasons. One is the fact Brooke County voters probably would not approve a big bond issue to help fund such work.

“We need to look to the future,” Mitchell said, “but we have to survive tomorrow.” That was in reference to his emphasis on the need for major repairs at the high school, which opened in 1969.

One wonders if the lamentation, “the hits just keep coming” was coined in reference to a situation similar to that facing the Brooke County Board of Education.

First, there was the scandal that forced the previous school superintendent to resign.

Then, it was learned that because of a clerical mistake blamed on that superintendent’s administration, the school system has $3.2 million a year less than had been expected to cover operations.

That forced the board to take extremely unpleasant steps such as laying off about 40 employees.

More recently, there has been a dispute with Brooke County commissioners over payment of school resource officers.

Now this.

A cost figure for making the necessary repairs at Brooke High was not cited during the recent meeting. Obviously, unless it is in the pocket-change category, the board cannot pay for the work.

Some state funding may be available, but there is a question whether Brooke County can meet all the requirements. State officials should find a way to offer significant funding help. This is a true emergency.

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