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Kanawha County School Board discusses Edgewood-area school

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Inside and out, Kanawha County continues to work toward opening the doors for the new Edgewood area elementary school.

School board members approved the transfer of 13 teachers to positions at the new school, as well as the purchase of maintenance bonds for infrastructure during a special meeting Monday.

The surety bonds will cost a little more than $237,000 and pertain to sewer lines running to the new school, board attorney Jim Withrow said. After the school system builds the lines, ownership will be transferred to the City of Charleston.

"The city requires that we post a bond to provide any kind of maintenance costs on those lines for a period of a year," Withrow said.

Any time the city incorporates new infrastructure into its system, it requires such bonds, Withrow said.

A surety bond requires that one party (in this case, the school system) pay another (the city) if it fails to meet an obligation. In this case, that means if the school system fails to deliver effective sewer lines, it might have to pay.

Withrow didn't expect any maintenance would be required on brand new lines but thought the contractor or project insurers would probably be responsible if it was. He thought the money for the bonds was already built in to the roughly $21 million project cost.

Board member Bill Raglin continues to point at the cost of the project when discussing expectations for the school. He thinks a pilot project proposed for the new school and others on Charleston's West Side could help meet those expectations.

He wasn't happy to see administrators ask to hire 13 teachers for the new school. A recommendation of the pilot project was to forgo seniority in the attempt to find the best-qualified teachers for the positions, which are considered unique.

He questioned whether that goal could be accomplished if the school was hiring teachers before Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin addresses the proposed pilot.

"We are asking as a primary selling point of this proposal that we've sent through ... was to give us a lot of latitude in staffing," Raglin said. "If we're going to do that before the proposal has at least been given some thorough consideration, are we not pulling out one of the major justifications?"

This is the third group of teachers to be hired for the school, and the qualifications outlined in the pilot project recommendations have been used each time, said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary schools.

Superintendent Ron Duerring agreed.

"The thing that we're looking for with the governor to take a look at are those qualifications, and we did do that here, but there's always that seniority issue," Duerring said. "We really didn't have that here."

The three-year commitment required of those who want to teach at the new school also helped attract the most qualified teachers, Duerring said.

The new school will consolidate Watts and J.E. Robins elementary schools.

Henry Nearman, who is currently principal at J.E. Robins and has been selected for that position at the new school, recently told the Daily Mail the same thing. He said it's important to get the teachers hired for the school so the copious amount of necessary training can be started.

Because so much training is required, Nearman said the school system wanted to get its money's worth by way of the three-year commitment.

Raglin didn't think the commitment was binding. Withrow said county officials couldn't do anything if the teachers decided to leave the county but they could be prevented from transferring to other schools in Kanawha County during that period.

All of the 13 teachers on the transfer list already work at Watts and J.E. Robins. Roberts said many came to those schools hoping to shift to the new school when it opened.

The county has chosen candidates for about 90 percent of the 46 positions at the school, Nearman told the Daily Mail last month.

Raglin said he was not convinced the school system had conducted a wide enough search and voted against the transfers. He was the lone member at the meeting not in favor of the moves. Board member Becky Jordon was absent.

The board unanimously approved roof replacement projects at nine schools for a total cost of about $544,000.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

 


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