CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It would cost close to $20 million more to move the state schools for the Deaf and the Blind from its location in Romney than it would to rebuild and renovate, according to an architect.
David Ferguson, a principal and architect with ZMM Architects and Engineers of Charleston, said it could cost close to $100 million to build the schools in a different location, compared to the roughly $82 million price tag expected for the project planned at the Romney site.
"Financially, it would be my recommendation to stay," Ferguson said Tuesday in a phone interview.
Ferguson has worked on the schools' Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan for the past 18 months. In examining the plan - the 10-year guide for school facility projects required of all school systems - Ferguson focused on building anew in Romney.
However, the idea of moving the school came up during a recent state Board of Education meeting.
Following nearly an hour of discussion about the future of the schools, the board asked Superintendent Lynn Boyer about the feasibility of moving the campus. She told the board she had not considered the idea but would do so and make a presentation in February.
"This is a decision, made one way or another, that involves many people. I think we all have to just wait for the board to see the information, and then we decide, depending on what they want to do, who to involve further," Boyer said Tuesday in a phone interview.
"And recognize this would be a huge decision, and they would not make it lightly," she continued.
After speaking with board members, Boyer said she asked Ferguson to start researching a potential move.
Ferguson said the schools serve 123 students on a tract of more than 70 acres, and he estimated any new site would have to be at least 30 acres. The current proximity to Romney also lets teachers take students into town for lessons. Ferguson said blind students could learn to cross the street there, for example.
A new site would have to be fairly large but also near a town. He said he looked at some sites near Morgantown, Charleston and Huntington, but nothing appeared to be a cheaper alternative to the current plan.
There's more to a campus move than just the final dollar amount, Ferguson added.