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Putnam superintendent says enrollment up

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD, W.Va. — The new Buffalo High School will be on display as it hosts the state board of education meeting this month on Wednesday and Thursday.

The meeting will give state board members a chance to see one of their Innovation Zone grants in action.

Buffalo is in its first year of a three-year grant for $100,000 per year to participate in the New Tech Network, a nonprofit that works with schools and districts on project-based approaches to learning.

Putnam County Superintendent Chuck Hatfield invited school board members Monday night to attend the meeting.

Hatfield also told board members countywide enrollment is up about 100 pupils from last year.

"That's in the realm of what we've seen the last couple years, somewhere between 100 and 150 students," Hatfield said. "We'll probably end up at about 9,850 (total enrollment.)"

Hatfield said enrollment has continued to grow each year since the Putnam County population boom in the 1980s and 90s, but that the average of 100 to 150 students per year is manageable because growth is spread throughout the county.

Still, he said West Teays Elementary has more than 600 students enrolled. Nearby Mountain View Elementary, which was built to alleviate the strain on West Teays, and Scott Teays both have about 450. All three buildings were designed or expanded to accommodate that many students.

The county is in the midst of a multi-year building program that will eliminate all portable classrooms in the county, with funding coming from a multi-million-dollar voter-approved bond sale in 2009, the state school building authority and local funds.

Hatfield reported that progress on one of those building projects, Poca Elementary and Middle schools, is on schedule for a winter-break move.

"It's going to be tight," Hatfield said.

Construction on an addition to the elementary school that will house the middle school is complete, and renovations on the elementary portion are nearly complete.

The elementary and middle schools will share only a kitchen and will have separate classroom corridors, dining facilities and gymnasiums.

This semester, the middle school students are still in their old building, which dates to 1926, while the elementary school uses the new space. Over winter break, the elementary will move back into its space, and the middle school will move into its new space.

But site work will continue after the holidays as the old middle school building is demolished and graded for parking and school grounds.

Finally, Hatfield told the board that the county is working with Glenville State College to identify students who might participate in their Hidden Promise scholarship program.

"If chosen these students would get a $1,000 scholarship plus they're assigned a mentor to work with them and check on them every two weeks," Hatfield said. "Check with their professors and make sure they're going to class, see if they have any difficulties and so forth."

Glenville State has asked the county to tap five students in each of grades 8 through 12 who might be good candidates for the program. Putnam is one of 30 counties participating.


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