Byline: Greg Stone
Supporters of Riverside High School came away from Monday night's Kanawha County Board of Education meeting with $1.9 million but plenty more fund raising to do.
The board, meeting at south Charleston High School, voted 4-1 to approve the money, the bulk of which will to to athletic facilities and technology projects. Member John Luoni voted no.
A total of $739,000 was approved for athletics - $330,000 of which will go for football stadium bleachers - and $500,000 for technology.
Estimates for a complete football stadium range between $1 million to $1.7 million, including about $1 million for a field house. The board has pledged $550,000 so far, including $37,500 Monday night toward the field house cause.
The football stadium issue isn't likely to go away at Riverside. East Bank and DuPont, the two schools being consolidated to form the new school, are traditional football powers. Fans at both schools are rabid.
"Your football program can (financially) carry the rest of your sports," current East Bank coach Ralph Hensley told the board.
Still, board members weren't willing to approve any more money Monday night. They said, however, that Riverside Community council members are free to adjust line items within the athletic budget as they see fit.
The $1.9 million is not necessarily all the additional money the new school will receive, members said.
Luoni said he didn't feel the board should be spending money on athletic facilities when the school could face potential construction cost overruns and unforeseen academic expenses.
Other schools around the county have needs too, he said. A $98 million bond issue to improve county high schools failed Nov. 15.
"I think we should try to get some grants," Luoni said. "there are other needs greater than that. We should make sure this main building is done properly before allocating money for other things."
Connie Fout, community council co-chairperson, said community members may be able to trim the budget in some places in order to put more money into the football stadium.
For instance, the board gave $51,000 toward a baseball field. It may be that the school's baseball team could play at either the existing East Bank or DuPont baseball fields the first year of the school's existence, Fout said, in order to funnel the money toward the football stadium.
Construction of a football stadium will not be an easy proposition for volunteers, said Fout. "You have to see that the bleachers are put in correctly," she said. "A lot of people just don't have that kind of time to donate."
Still, Fout said she was pleases with the overall results of Monday night's meeting.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," she said. "The board hasn't done a lot of this kind of thing in the past."
The $500,000 technology outlay will go toward $1.2 million already budgeted for the school.
Mike Kees, an East Bank High teacher who has helped develop technology-related plans at Riverside, said the new money will go toward supplying about 100 laptop computers for students and 80 for teachers.
The money will also pay for projection equipment and video-conferencing facilities, Kees said.
Board member Bill Raglin urged Superintendent Jorea Marple's administration to plan for bugs which sometimes arise in such high-tech equipment.
"We're having all kinds of problems right now," Raglin said. "Software problems, hardware problems. It can really be a big mess."
The board also approved $500,000 in new furniture for the school, $100,000 for new curtains and a sound system for the performing arts, $65,000 for athletic uniforms, and $23,000 for an acoustical wall in the band room.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
Kanawha County schoolteachers, service personnel, principals and specialists will see a 2-percent raise in their paychecks next month, but the school board decided to cut higher administrators out of a $7 million budget surplus.
"I could never agree that administrators get another raise this year," member Betty Jarvis said to a packed house at a board meeting Thursday night.
The rest of the board agreed.
Top-level administrators got a raise last year. Principals said they were erroneously included in this group, but their only pay raise came two years ago when their days were extended.
"I am extremely pleased about this," said Jewell Willburn, the Kanawha County Education Association representative who promised to speak at every board meeting until teachers got a raise.
The $6.9 million surplus came out of general budget windfall, along with a $2 million increase in new property taxes, and $1 million from investment interest, said Treasurer David Stewart.
On Thursday, the board approved most of the administrations other ideas for the money, including $2.3 million for long-term substitute teachers, and $770,000 in saved substitute funds to go back to schools.
John Luoni was the only board member to vote against the raise because he said the public needed to know where the money would come from in the future.
Stewart said the raise would be built into the budget.
"This raise can be manageable, however, we will have to be very careful the way we manage our business,"said Bill Raglin.
Depending on their salary scales, teachers will see between $460 and $800 more each year in their paychecks.
The raise was generally supported, but it provoked a longer discussion on how the board spends money.
Jarvis said she was embarrassed that school officials got money from the governor’s office to air condition Glenwood Elementary one month, but could divide up $7 million the next.
"It looked like a picture of us with welfare stamps in one hand and commodity cheese in the other, driving off in a Cadillac," she said to chuckles from the audience.
Last month, officials said that schools are expected to find funding for air conditioning.
Her point was supported by Pete Thaw, who formed a group opposing the county’s $98 million bond issue in November.
"There's enough fat down here to run this system without a fat bond issue,"he said.
But board members said they had wanted to give employees a raise for the past few years.
"We want to recognize the personnel who have worked so long and so hard and not been recognized," said Priscilla Haden, board president.
The board also voted to put aside $500,000 for furniture at the new Riverside High School. Spokesman Rex Thompson said there are still $7 million in needs at the school, including sports facilities.
"All we want is to find what were up against, so we can decide how to best meet the needs," Raglin said.
The board plans to meet with Riverside Community Council in September.
The board also voted to add two elementary counselors, one technology technician, and add roughly $430,000 to the facility improvement fund.
Board members also reversed themselves to approve Mark Milam as principal of East Bank Junior High School, with Jarvis and Luoni dissenting.
Milam’s appointment was originally shot down after board members questioned his experience as compared to other applicants for the job.
Byline: Linda Blackford
Kanawha County school board members went home from Thursday night's meeting with a hefty armload of reading material.
That included a countywide safe schools policy, the educational plan for the new Riverside High School and a thick notebook with the final version of the Blue Ribbon facilities and consolidation plan.
Thursday was the first time members had seen the Blue Ribbon plan, which outlines what residents want for the educational future of their buildings and programs.
"I'm so proud of the work the community has done to get this input," said Jo Blackwood. Residents representing the four magisterial districts combed through hundreds of documents from schools and individuals over the past year.
The school board will have a work session with the entire county committee and other residents on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. They haven't said when they will vote on it.
The school board should be able to move in phases, Blackwood said, dealing with parts of the plan that everyone agrees on.
People definitely want to move on to high schools covering grades 9-12 and middle schools with 6-8. Costs of this are very vague, Blackwood said, but it could cost $20 and $30 million to reconfigure all eight high schools alone.
Other priorities include putting air conditioning in all schools, redistricting the county, and major renovations at schools that need them.
The hard part will be closing schools. Anger over the last consolidation process defeated a $72 million bond issue, and two school board members were elected while running on anti-consolidation platforms three years ago. The plan currently calls for closing 21 of the county's 88 schools.
Luckily for board members, closing elementary schools, which often represent the heart of a community, won't happen until the high schools and middle schools are finished.
A delegation from Midland Trail Elementary, for example, protested at Thursday's meeting against moving their students to Cedar Grove, as is currently suggested in the plan.
The Blue Ribbon plan also includes all minority reports that were turned in. Copies are available to the public from Blackwood.
The board also took home the educational specifications for the new Riverside High School, slated to open in 1998.
"This school is going to be a technology center," said Superintendent Jorea Marple.
Plans call for computer labs for every subject, as well as large performing arts and music spaces. Negotiations are ongoing with the Kanawha County Public Library to establish a branch at the school and with CAMC to help fund a wellness center.
The Riverside High Community Council will display the architectural plans for the new school at its Nov. 13 meeting at DuPont High School at 7 p.m.
The board voted to approve the name of Riverside High and its Warrior mascot, which was recently decided by residents and students from the eastern end of the county.
Earlier in the evening, the board approved a safe schools policy that reflect the Legislature's Safe Schools Act passed last year. Possession of a deadly weapon, dealing narcotics or assaulting a teacher now carry a mandatory 12-month expulsion.
On Nov. 1, the county will be turning in its safe schools plan to the state board of education.
Both administration and board members expressed concern about excessive time in disciplinary hearings and finances. For example, all county schools said they would like better communications systems and more alternative centers, which would add up to about $2 million.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
In September, Kanawha County voters will be asked to decide whether the county's high schools and vocational centers should get a $94 million facelift, including $10 million of new technology.
The Kanawha County school board voted 3-2 Wednesday night to base the bond on Superintendent Jorea Marple's recent proposal to renovate high schools and make room for the ninth grade. In turn, that will allow the remaining junior high schools to become 6-8 middle schools.
Marple's proposal came out of the Blue Ribbon Plan, a two-year community blueprint to revamp all of the county's schools. After the Blue Ribbon plan was priced at $246 million, however, board members decided to re-evaluate.
"The message I've been getting for six years is do your high schools and do them right," said member Cheryle Hall who made the motion for the bond. "I think for the dollars this is the wisest move we can make."
The vote provoked applause from the three members of the Blue Ribbon committee, to the obvious dismay of Pete Thaw, Walter Price and Ray Dunleavy, members of WASTE, Workers Against School Tax Excess, a group pledge to oppose the bond.
Like WASTE members, boards members Betty Jarvis and John Luoni continued their opposition.
"I think the cost to the public in terms of education have gone up faster than the rate of inflation," Luoni said. "When we ask [taxpayers] for a bond, we have to understand they have been very generous over the years."
Jarvis believes Kanawha County voters mistrust the school system.
"I would like to have this, but I honestly do not feel that the voters of Kanawha County will give us anything," she said. "I don't think they would give us a glass of water because they are afraid we would throw it out and ask for more."
Money from the bond will pay for additional classrooms and auxiliary gyms, as well as fixing health and safety issues. The schools will also be rewired for updated computers and equipment.
After the bond vote, the board moved with uncharacteristic speed through the remaining business, ending before 9 p.m.
Board members reaffirmed their belief in 6-8 middle schools. Currently, there are four middle schools and 10 junior high schools.
The entire board also agreed to make sure money is put aside in the budget for school maintenance. The Blue Ribbon Committee's main objective was to create a dedicated fund in the budget for maintenance.
Marple said boards can't dedicate funds out of the general budget because it must be approved every year. In her plan, she proposed raising the excess levy rate and putting the dedicated account there. The next levy election is in two years.
Even in the midst of agreement, however, members continued some good-natured ribbing. Luoni and Hall couldn't agree on which fiscal year they were talking about. The tiff distracted Hall as she made a motion.
"You've messed me up," she said.
"I feel like the whole evening hasn't been a total waste, then," Luoni responded.
Board members also agreed the redistricting computer program should be used to show where elementary schools should be closed. Marple suggested that Oakwood and Edison be closed by next fall.
"So much of elementaries being closed is dependent on a successful bond issue because you need those ninth-graders to move out," Marple said.
The bond will face and uphill battle, considering one community group already opposes it.
"We've had another unique display of fiscal irresponsibility," WASTE's Thaw said after the meeting. "Eighteen months ago the passed a $12 million bond for Riverside High School. We already know that project is in trouble. Instead of focusing on those issues, they're proposing a $94 million bond issue."
Thornton Cooper, a Blue Ribbon Committee member, said he would vote for the bond, but he would have liked to have seen it this spring.
"It's too much time," he said. "There's too much time to pick it apart,"
But most board members said they wanted time for the public to make up its mind.
"We want to allow the public to make an intelligent choice," board member Bill Raglin said. "I really believe taking time too get the program out to the public will give them the opportunity to make the best choice."
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
Before the Kanawha County school board meeting started Thursday night, business manager Chris Smith laid out a series of bricks on the table that ranged from shades of taupe to bisque to cream to pure white.
"We’re two bricks short of a load," he joked, but it seemed bricks have become a weighty, well, very serious problem in the construction of Riverside High School.
"In May, there were several white-brick issues identified," Smith said. The main one was that the pure white 'Arctic' brick shown in the architectural illustration - the airy white zigzag of a school across the green river bottom in Quincy - cost $230,000 extra.
The school’s budget is already dwindling for things like new computers, new furniture, and most pressing, it seems, for the football field, baseball field and tennis courts.
Rex Thompson, who serves as co-chair of the Riverside Community Council, said he understood the school had bigger needs than brick.
But, he said, pointing to the illustration, "That’s Riverside in our mind, that’s what it’s all about, that’s what the community is expecting."
The four board members present said the community also expected them to spend money sensibly and unanimously voted for an off-white, or cream-colored, brick instead.
"I just think it would be wrong to allocate over $200,000 to put in this white brick," said member John Luoni. "I think it sends the wrong message."
Smith said he was glad the brick issue was the biggest one facing Riverside construction right now. The project got off to a slow start after several archaeological delays on the Quincy site.
The school, which will consolidate East Bank and DuPont high schools, is scheduled to open in 1998.
Board members, several of whom have complained in recent months they don’t spend enough time on substantive issues, listened to brick and mortar reports from the business manager, the architect, the construction director, the maintenance director and the community liaison before turning to their goals and objectives for the school system.
The goals and objectives make up a hefty packet that identifies what the system wants to do and how it will do it.
Goals include increased academic achievement, good buildings, fiscal responsibility, good communications, good professional development, and cultural diversity.
Board members seemed most concerned about the county’s status of academic probation from the state.
The state accredits schools according to test scores and dropout and attendance rates.
Members said they wanted the administration to pay more attention to schools with low scores or high dropout rates, rather than letting state monitoring teams do it.
"People need to know we really mean business," said Bill Raglin.
The school board will discuss curriculum and academics in more detail at an Aug. 11 meeting at 7 p.m. at the board office, 200 Elizabeth St.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
Kanawha County school board members disagreed so sharply over construction bids for the new Riverside High School that the bids weren't approved.
"You can check anything, you go right ahead!" Cheryle Hall yelled at Betty Jarvis, who had questioned the bid process. "But there is nothing wrong with what's going on."
John Luoni tried to table the vote, but with only four members at Monday night's meeting, the vote failed 2-2. when President Priscilla Haden tried to approve the bids, the vote failed again, 2-2.
The board will meet again on the subject on Friday at 6 p.m. at the board office.
"This was supposed to be a celebration," said a disheartened Chuck Wilson, facilities director for the school system. "We've been working for two years on this and we brought everything in under budget."
The entire bid package came in at $18,479,365, a little less than was budgeted, Wilson said.
Jarvis questioned the type of heating and cooling system chosen by school officials. She said a person told her rooftop units were more expensive.
"Why are we paying $3.3 million for this?" Jarvis asked.
Jarvis wasn't the only person who was upset with the proceedings.
Ted Brady, an official with Progressive Electric, said he was disappointed a local company didn't get the electrical bid, especially a local company which supported the bond.
"I just wanted to present we are a local contractor and the majority of our people have worked hard for this school," Brady said.
Brady said the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers, the union which represents most Progressive workers, was one of the first local unions to get behind the bond.
"There are other issues besides low bids," he said.
Progressive will put in the technology infrastructure for $331,000. But the major electrical package was awarded to Tri-County Electrical for $1.82 million. Tri-County is based in Elkins.
According to state law, school systems must take the lowest bid offered. Kanawha County also has a policy of using local union workers.
"I thought local meant Kanawha County," said Clayton Young, a Riverside Council member who workers for Progressive Electric.
Progressive and Tri-County Electric had closed bids. But on alternate choices, like theater lights, Tri-County came in with lower bids.
Because $10 million of the $22.6 million cost for the schools comes from the School Building Authority, its staff must approve the bids as well.
Before the meeting, Mike Kinder of the authority said the bids met all requirements.
The final recommended bid package included:
- Dick Corp.: general trades package for $7.4 million.
- J.H.L. Masonry and Construction: masonry for $2.7 million.
- Stuart McMunn Co.: heating and cooling and fire protection for $3.4 million.
- Bell Plumbing and Heating: plumbing for $1.2 million.
- Tri-County Electrical: electrical for $1.8 million.
- Progressive Electric: technology infrastructure for $331,000.
- Commercial Appliance: food service equipment for $423,000.
- The R.M. Huffman Co.: cabinet and casework for $630,000.
- West Virginia Paving: asphalt paving for $325,000.
Superintendent Jorea Marple said the administration hopes the land cost will meet the board's appraisal of less than $2 million for the 40 acres in Quincy.
Condemnation hearing for the land have been repeatedly delayed, but construction can proceed. School officials said the landowners' appraisal is about twice as much.
The school system is already short on money for technology and $800,000 for furniture for the school. Marple said the board may include those costs in the operating budget during the next two years.
Rex Thompson, who heads the Riverside Community Council, said he wasn't upset with the delay.
"However, we're going to have to put confidence in people we hire," he said.
Riverside High School will consolidate East Bank and DuPont High Schools. It is supposed to open in 1998.
Byline: Dawn Miller
The state is going to blow up the old Chelyan Bridge, so eastern Kanawha County residents want to have a party.
The demolition date has not been set, but Blow-Up, Blow-Out Day will be Aug. 16 at the old Lowe's building at Quincy Mall, said Sharon Hemmings, an Upper Kanawha activist and former school board candidate.
She and dozens of fellow organizers are hitting up their neighbors for money and help.
Communities along with both sides of the Kanawha River east of Charleston are working on the event organized around the demolition of the 68-year-old bridge. The new Admiral T.J. Lopez Bridge was opened last month to replace it.
Organizers plan to rent 10-foot-by-10-foot spaces for $20 to businesses and groups who want to sell food, drinks, crafts, or other family-oriented fare.
There will be limited carnival-type rides, such as a swings and a Jupiter Jump.
Hemmings is still working on getting more games children and adults can enjoy, and possibly fireworks.
Money raised from the event will pay for costs of the fair. Leftover cash will be used for a similar event next summer, the Riverside High School Family Resource Center and possibly scholarships for Riverside students, Hemmings said.
"We are really looking for people and organizations who have games," Hemmings said. Typical school carnival games will be best.
Each child under age 12 will get five free tickets for games.
She also hopes to give away souvenir T-shirts, and possibly souvenir jay chains to jewelry from the demolished bridge.
The Upper Kanawha Valley Mayors' Association pitched in $1,000, said Marmet Mayor Billy Pauley.
Hemmings hopes local politicians will attend, either to sit in a dunking booth or to ride tricycles through an obstacle course.
Pauley is willing to sit in a dunking booth.
"I got in there with a suit on one time. They really made the money on it," he said, adding that it was an old suit.
"You'd be surprised what they like to throw at. They about drowned me though," Pauley said.
A limited number of booths will have access to electricity. The first groups to reserve a spot will be located under the shade of an awning.
In case of a downpour, booths can move indoors, but only as a last resort, Hemmings said.
Funds collected from the festival will be handled by the nonprofit Community Council of Kanawha County, Hemmings said. Donation and rental checks can be made payable to that group.
For more information, to donate to reserve a booth, call Sharon Hemmings at 595-3525 or Todd Morris at 442-5649.
The Kanawha County Public Library system has been awarded three grants.
The board of the CAMC Foundation Inc. has approved a grant of $10,000 for the new joint public library Branch/school media center at Riverside High School. The grant will be used to purchase educational materials in the areas of health, wellness and medical reference.
The library system also has received the Grolier National Library Week grant, which is presented yearly by the American Library Association. The grant provides $4,000 to the library system for use in a public awareness campaign to highlight April 13-19 as National Library Week. This year's theme is "Kids Connect the Library" and includes special programs and activities during the week.
Charleston's Herscher Foundation has awarded a grant of $2,500 to the library system to support the purchase of new multimedia computer for the children's services department at the Charleston branch. The computer will enable children and parents who do not have a home computer to use new library materials in electronic formats.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
The new school will border the Kanawha River, so students in the eastern end of the county took the logical approach and named it Riverside High School
"This is the decision of the community," said Rex Thompson, co-chairman of what is now known as the Riverside High Community Council. The council acts as a liaison between residents and the county school board.
About 1,800 students voted in the final decision. They also chose the Warriors mascot, and purple, black and silver as the school colors.
Riverside High School will consolidate East Bank and DuPont high schools and is scheduled to open in 1998.
The students who will be first to attend Riverside got the final pick of the suggestions from the community. The other names considered were Kanawha and Kanawha East.
The Warrior will not be an Indian warrior, students stressed.
"That will be designed by the students," said Stacey Chapman, student council president at DuPont.
During mascot deliberations in the past few weeks, Miners was a popular choice among students who wanted to reflect the heritage of the Upper Kanawha Valley. The other choice was the Black Bears.
"Some people thought it (Miners) was a negative image because people don't want to go back to the same jobs their parents did," said James Nelson. "They want them to be doctors and lawyers, and that's what this school will give them."
All 17 schools in their area turned in students' top choices. Community members also turned in their favorites.
"It was as fair as it could be," Chapman said.
Above all else, residents don't want to repeat the saga of Randolph County, where fighting over the new high school's name brought lawsuits and lots of lost money.
"We hope to spend our money wisely," said community council member Toni Boyd.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
In 1998, Riverside High School will open its doors to students from East Bank and DuPont high schools, as well as many area residents.
After all, the school will boast a Charleston Area Medical Center health clinic and a public library branch. Most recently, One Valley Bank won a bid to open a branch at the school, with an automatic teller machine in the student commons area.
This way, officials say, the school can serve the community while its students train with these on-site businesses.
Riverside is designed with a "career cluster" approach. students will pick a major in ninth grade that mirrors the career they want. For example, someone who chooses the business cluster could take advanced math, accounting and business classes and intern in the One Valley branch. A health cluster student might get to observe at the CAMC clinic while taking anatomy and biology.
"All the research points toward getting kids work-ready," said Riverside Principal Richard Clendenin.
"We're not providing them the skills they need."
Riverside High School will join an emerging tide of career-based schools across the country. A global economy means schools need to replace obsolete classes with more pertinent training, educators say.
Of course, not everyone is jumping on this latest educational bandwagon. Some educators are worried about schools turning into job training centers.
"It seems that the value of education is seen by an awful lot of people as preparation for a job," said Vivian Owens, director of the West Virginia Education Fund.
"I certainly have some concern about narrowing the objectives of education to the extent that we're not educating children to be learners for the rest of their lives."
Last year, the fund released a report called "Ready for What," which found that both colleges and businesses want students with academic strengths, like writing and problem solving, that enhanced technical skills.
"You have to find some balance," Owens said.
"It's really important that we don't just show students how to be a plumber of a mechanic. We need to show them to do a wide variety of things."
In recent years, businesses have increased their involvement with local schools, providing both human and financial resources. But some worry about for-profit business getting too involved with nonprofit schools.
In a recent report called "Captive Kids," researchers at the Consumers Union found businesses marketed their products through school supplies, which teachers welcome as school budgets get leaner.
"Today, corporate involvement in schools often goes beyond self-serving philanthropy to become commercial opportunism," the authors wrote.
"Limited local boosterism is overshadowed by national marketing or advocacy efforts from major companies that often put corporate logos, brand names and other messages before school kids. Oil and utility companies, food companies and health providers, banks and credit card companies are among those who look for ways to get their message to kids while those kids are a captive audience in school."
"On the one hand they're saying 'Look, what a great education,'" said Charlotte Baecher, co-author of the report and director of Consumers Union Education Services, bout the proposed banking service at Riverside.
"What they're not saying is, 'Look at what we're getting - a terrific image, and no competition for the kids to choose from.' It's not helping kids learn that one of the most important things to learn about banking is how to shop around."
Principal Clendenin said the school system approached the business community about Riverside, not the other way around.
"Business leaders are the only ones who can tell us what they want," he said. "If we don't give them that, we can expect employment to decrease."
Riverside will still have college-track classes, he added.
In the agreements, the clinic, library and bank will have their own entrances to the school. Each organization will pay for the construction of its branch at the school. Rent will then be extracted from those costs.
Security for the bank hasn't been worked out yet, Clendenin said.
"We sought them for one specific purpose, and that was totally curricular," he said.
"We expect that to be returned to us through job shadowing and apprenticeships. Our return will offset any profit they make."
The education fund's Owens thinks school should balance new educational ideas with the old ones that work.
"Everybody is looking for the silver bullet," she said.
"They're looking for one thing in school reform that will solve everything. But we have to do a great many things because there's not one thing that will make education everything it needs to be."
Byline: Rusty Marks
Dottie Pisapia in her small office at DuPont High School, showing off a line drawing of the proposed library for Riverside High School.
"There will be a lot more of everything," says Pisapia, school librarian. "Lots and lots more."
"Every time I look at the plans I get a little more excited."
When school officials began planning last year for Riverside, which will consolidate East Bank and DuPont high schools, they decided they wanted to build a public library branch in the new school. Initial snags in funding the extra space required for the joint library have been swept aside, and the idea is in the hands of architects.
Despite worries that adults and schoolchildren in the same library might lead to headaches to both, proponents for the joint library project expect few problems. "I'm not really worried about that," said East Bank Principal Richard Clendenin, who will be principal at the new school. "We welcome the community use of the building."
Children and public libraries can and do mix. In Putnam County, elementary school students march like ducks in a row several times a week to public branch libraries in Buffalo and Poca. Putnam County Library Director Peggy Bias said tight space in the tiny boxes that serve as libraries is a greater concern than rowdy students disturbing elderly browsers.
If Riverside's new library is big enough and has enough staff, Bias expects the idea will work just fine.
Kanawha County schoolchildren frequently make trips to the public library for research. But the idea of having the public in schools libraries is new to West Virginia.
But not to other states. Pisapia said she and a group of school officials and planners visited a joint community-school library near Raleigh, N.C., to see how the concept worked.
"The one we went to was open all the time," she said. "If somebody came into school and wanted to use the library it was fine."
But Linda Wright, Kanawha County library director, said the Raleigh library wasn't without its problems. An afterthought, the library went public after the school had been built, and adults who wanted to use the library have to walk through the school to get to it. Ordinarily, she said, the arrangement doesn't cause many problems, but getting to the library can be a pain when students change classes.
Riverside's new library will have separate entrances for students and the public. Students will come in from the school side, and the public from an entrance facing the parking lot. The school entrance will be closed off after hours.
Architects and school officials expect adults to congregate toward one end of the library, and students toward the other, and have designed the facility with that thought in mind. There's a separate youth services room where elementary students can browse and congregate, and attached classrooms that can double as meeting rooms.
Wright said hours for the new library haven't been set yet, but said adults and students may be in library at the same time. "I believe there will be some overlap," she said.
But Pisapia said it may not be a sin for adults and students to mingle. She said they actually seems to help each other in Raleigh.
Both Pisapia and Clendenin say the new library will be better than their current facilities.
"There will be no comparison," Clendenin said.
At East Bank, half-empty shelves are the lonely home to about 4,000 books. The high school has two sets of up-to-date encyclopedias, but the barren shelves that tower over the stained gray carpet house many books that date from the 1950s and '60s. But there's also a 1930 edition Homer's "Odyssey," and a copy of "Twelve Centuries of English Poetry and Prose," published in 1910.
"We have some old books," Clendenin conceded.
Clendenin doesn't want to be too critical of East Bank's library. Like other schools in Kanawha County, East Bank is linked to a computer system and has access to interlibrary loans, so a book at a high school across the county can be at East Bank in a few days. But he admits the library isn't much use for research. It's necessary to bus students to Charleston for that.
Pisapia presides over a library at DuPont with more than 8,800 titles. There were more before a recent purge.
"All the science books that said someday we're going to the moon - I did get rid of those," she said. But some older volumes remain.
"I tell people that if they want George Washington, it doesn't matter if it's a 1970 encyclopedia or a 1990 encyclopedia," Pisapia said. "George hasn't done much lately."
But DuPont's library has its limits, too.
"It's hard to keep a collection current and provide something for everyone when you don't have much funding," Pisapia said. She said her current book budget is about $1,800, roughly what the book budget was when she started as a librarian at Herbert Hoover High School in 1963.
Bias, who presides over Putnam County's public library branches, said books for school libraries and books for public libraries aren't necessarily the same. School books should support the curriculum, but public libraries have to serve residents looking for auto repair manuals or gardening books.
Wright, her Kanawha County counterpart, agrees. She said school officials will buy the students' books, and the public library staff will buy everything else.
Wright said the branch library will be a boon to residents of the eastern end of Kanawha County, where the bookmobile and tiny branches in Marmet and Glasgow open a few hours a week offer the only library service.
Wright expects the Riverside branch to house about 25,000 books, with more added later.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
There’s no doubt the combined forces of East Bank and DuPont high schools will make a powerhouse football team at the new Riverside High School.
The only problem is money hasn’t been found to build the $1.6 million football field planned there. Funding is also a problem for roughly $3 million more in athletic facilities, including a track, softball and baseball fields, tennis courts, a wellness center and a $1 million swimming pool.
"The items here are not generally funded by boards of education, neither are they funded by the SBA [state School Building Authority]," Superintendent Jorea Marple said at a Kanawha County school board meeting Monday night. "These are things that are desired by the community."
Riverside, which will not open until the fall of 1999, is funded with a $12.6 million bond issue and $10 million from the authority. The school board also put aside about $800,000 for furniture and land.
Athletic facilities are usually paid for by local fund-raising efforts.
But Rex Thompson, a spokesman for the Riverside Community Council, asked the board to commit to more so that other entities will follow. So far the council has raised about $5,000.
"I want to see some leadership from the board of education," Thompson said. "Tell us what you’re willing to do and tell us what you can’t do."
Some money could be put aside from next year’s projected budget surplus, but John Luoni and Priscilla Haden said they would not allocate uncertain money.
Luoni, in particular, appeared incensed that the items were not paid for yet, although other board members said they knew all along that sports were not covered in expenses.
Thompson then reminded Luoni he’d promised to help Riverside during his school board campaign.
"You did tell people you’d be willing to work together and that’s all we’ve asked you to do," Thompson said. "I’m just asking you to remember what you said."
"That’s your interpretation," Luoni shouted, pounded his fists on the table. "I want to respond."
"Mr. Luoni, you may respond in a decent matter," said Haden, a former schoolteacher.
Luoni said all 88 schools might think he promised them things during his campaign. "They might all come here asking for things," he said.
The board member will continue to think about how much they can spend on Riverside sports. They will discuss matters on Nov. 10 and vote on Dec. 8.
The board also discussed how the system hires administrators. Members asked Marple to study procedures other systems use and come back with suggestions of ways to change.
Most recently, the board voted down the administration’s recommendation of Scott Monty for DuPont Junior High School's assistant principal. The position will be reposted.
Byline: Danny Wells
Concern is growing in the east end of Kanawha County over funding for an outdoor athletic complex for the new Riverside High School, a 1999 consolidation of East Bank and DuPont High schools.
East Bank principal Dick Clendenin, who will become principal of Riverside, said no money is currently available for athletic facilities outside the school building.
Clendenin is not optimistic a football field will be in place when the school is completed.
"Ideally, I see the Board providing funds to build the complex," said Clendenin. "Realistically, I can see them telling us to play our games at DuPont until the community can come up with funds for the project."
However, Jorea Marple, superintendent of Kanawha County Schools, said there are no plans for Riverside to play an of its football games at H.B. Douglas Field at DuPont High.
"I don't see that happening," said Marple. "I don't see the new school opening without the football field being ready."
Marple said preparation has already been made for the playing field and money must now be found to pay for seats.
"What is lacking is bleachers," she said. "We have not funded bleachers in the past for any school. The same is true of a fieldhouse. We as a school system have not paid for those entities."
Marple said her office has every intention of helping see that funding is made available for athletic facilities at the new school.
"We said from the beginning we would work with the community to find outside funding and support for the project," she said. "We plan to be actively working with the community."
Marple said some Riverside athletic facilities, such as tennis courts and outside basketball courts, will be used by members of the community at large. So she suggested the County Commission as a possible source of funding help.
Meanwhile, supporters of the new school plan to take their requests for athletic facilities to a Board of Education meeting next month, according to Clayton Moore who is chairman of the Kanawha County Community Council, which has served as a liaison group between the community and the Board.
"People are upset," said Moore. "They thought they were going to get athletic facilities from the very beginning. The original design called for $1 million to be spent on athletic facilities. That seemed like a lot of money, but evidently it isn't. That money was used up in sight preparation. It may be that everything will be worked out. We won't know until we approach the Board."
DuPont athletic director Jim Fout said a football stadium is essential in funding the athletic program at the new school.
"We have the potential with a 5,000-seat stadium to fund the entire athletic program with home football games through ticket sales and concessions," said Fout. "This is football country. We should have a strong football program that will attract a lot of fans."
Fout pointed out a minimum seating capacity of 4,000 is required by the Secondary School Activities Commission to play host to playoff games.
Douglas Field seats 2,000, while Calvert Field in East Bank seats close to 1,500.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
First, the archaeological dig at the new Riverside High School site in Quincy took too long.
Then a series of community meetings were canceled because of snow. Next, an overpass changed the school's design, which, in turn, has lengthened the land sale negotiations.
So it's no surprise that school officials may have to delay the opening of Riverside High School until after the fall of 1998.
"A change in start-up date is being assessed," said Chris Smith, the business manager for Kanawha County schools. "There won't be a decision for another two weeks."
A delay could mean the Quincy school would open in the middle of the 1998-99 school year, or not until fall of 1999.
The high school will consolidate East Bank and DuPont high schools, paid for by a $12.7 million bond passed last year and $10 million from the School Building Authority.
Rex Thompson, who co-chairs the Riverside Community Council, said the community would rather have a delay than mistakes.
"Do we think we can open in 1998?" he asked. "That's our goal, and we'll do everything we can to get it open.
"If we think quality will be affected, then delay is the preferred method."
Thompson said community members, business leaders and civic groups were very involved with the school's design, which has also slowed the process.
"There's a traditional method where a very small group of people makes the decision and tells you what you'll have," he said. "The other method is untraditional, where thousands of people have input and the thumb print of the community is all over the design."
The School Building Authority has been assisting with the school plans.
"We kind of felt that a delay was always a possibility with the delays they've been having," said David Snead, chief architect with the authority. "The delays in the archaeological survey went on for quite some time."
Last summer, archaeologists on the Quincy dig disagreed with archaeologists from the Division of Culture and History, forcing extensions and repeats of the work. In addition, school officials debated the need for a dig with Culture and History officials for several months.
Other delays have included new architectural designs because of additions to the plans. A public library branch, a health clinic and a bank branch were added to the school after the initial design. Gas lines and highway design changes have also changed the drawings, said architect Clint Bryan.
Because of these changes, the property owners haven't gotten a final appraisal for the land sale. School officials are considering condemning the property so they will have access to it before the sale is final.
School officials say any delay won't add costs because most of the contracts have already been signed.
"We're working it through from a team perspective," Thompson said. "Just as in building one's home, you have to tie it down to make sure it stays on track."
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
After weeks of meetings and hair-pulling, school officials said the state Division of Highways will help pay for an overpass over U.S. 60 to reach the new Riverside high School.
The agreement means that the school's proposed 1998 opening is back on schedule.
"It's very tight," said Chuck Wilson, facilities director for Kanawha County schools.
DOH officials said that they will probably contribute $750,000 to the $2 million overpass.
The school, which will consolidate East Bank and DuPont High School, will be located in Quincy, between U.S. 60 and the Kanawha River.
"We're working on it," said Norm Roush, development engineer for DOH. "We've tentatively committed $750,000 of the total cost."
The state is planning to widen U.S. 60 near Diamond. Just down the road, federal money is being used to build a new Chelyan bridge.
"We intend for U.S 60 and this to go together," Roush said.
Two weeks ago, DOH officials proposed changing the plans for building the overpass. This meant changing the architectural design, and more archaeological digging, which has taken the most time and money on the project so far.
"There were some misunderstandings," Wilson said. "However the layout, as is, is acceptable with the Division of Highways."
Riverside High School will be paid for with $10 million from the School Building Authority and $12.7 million from a county bond issue. School officials put aside money for the overpass, but hope to use every extra cent on technology in the school.
Possible delays loom for the $22.7 million construction project. These include moving a gas line on the property owned by the Eastern American Energy Corp. School officials have been working with the company to get the line moved at the company's expense.
In addition, appraisals are still being made on the land, which is owned by Southern Land Co.
Business manager Chris Smith is working on completing those negotiations.
Wilson said the project moves slowly because so many people from the community and the system are involved.
"We are taking one problem at a time and are still aiming for 1998," Wilson said. "It's not often you have everyone aimed in the same direction."
Members get preliminary look at $26 million consolidation project
By Ken Ward Jr.
It's not often that the Kanawha County school board meets in a high school shower room. But they did Friday afternoon as part of a tour of the under-construction Riverside High School in the upper Kanawha Valley.
And believe it or not, the shower rooms were a hot topic, according to project manager Chuck Wilson and school system business manager Chris Smith.
"Chuck and I are kind of prejudiced because we think there's enough room here for football locker rooms," Smith told board members.
"There are some others who don't agree with us."
Smith noted that several school additions, such as the football field's grandstands, aren't yet funded. The school system wants community donations to help foot those bills.
Board members got a firsthand look at the locker room and other parts of the construction project during a 1-hour visit to the site following a short meeting at the board office.
Joined by a couple of reporters, contractors and Superintendent Jorea Marple, board members donned bright yellow hard hats and trounced through gravel and dirt.
The $26 million school, on a piece of bottom land near Diamond, is scheduled to open in the fall of 1999. Construction started in the spring.
Riverside will eventually consolidate East Bank and DuPont high schools and be home to about 1,400 students.
On Friday, the school was a sprawling bunch of steel, concrete and bricks. Workers continued installing electrical conduit, mortar work and steel welding.
Marple and Wilson guided board members through the new school's many features, including extra-long hallways - so teachers can keep a better eye on students between classes - to special computer stations for teachers in each classroom.
"Every classroom is designed so that, by itself, it can be a computer lab," Marple said.
Marple also gushed over the building's windows.
"One of the real neat things is we're going to be one of the only schools in the country with windows in all the rooms," she said. "All the classrooms are going to have nice, big windows."
Board President Priscilla Haden was concerned, though, as she gazed out one window at the cornfield on Quincy Coal Co. land next door to the school.
"That's very nice with that being a cornfield," Haden said. "But if it were commercially developed, it might not be so good," she added. Wilson said he doesn't know what the company plans to do with the roperty.
"They tax farmland less than other land, so they planted corn," Wilson whispered. "But nobody picked it."
Board member John Luoni worried that the school wouldn't have enough off-hours security.
"I would think this would be a target once it opens, with all the new equipment," Luoni said.
Wilson said the school will have motion sensors and security cameras.
"I always love to add more security," he said. "But we've got more than the average school."
Wilson also said there had been a few safety concerns about the construction project, but nothing serious.
"You have to rigidly stick to the code and there were a few problems, but you have that on every job."
Byline: Rusty Marks
Members of the Kanawha County school board are trying to tighten their grip on administrative hiring practices.
In response to a recent Sunday Gazette-Mail report regarding alleged nepotism and job tailoring within the school system, board members on Friday questioned the way school officials hire people and decide on promotions.
They also passed a policy requiring the periodic review of some administrative jobs, and proposed another policy that would outlaw monkeying with job descriptions to fit specific employees.
"I’ve been told that in the business world [tailoring jobs] is the name of the game," said board President Priscilla Haden, adding that the practice is apparently also common in government. "That doesn’t mean it should be that way in the school system."
Despite assurances from School Superintendent Jorea Marple that all county hiring practices are done by the book and in strict accordance with state law, school board members said they had problems with the way the county hires employees, particularly for administrative positions.
A strict list of seven criteria, none of which carries more weight than the others, is used in hiring and promoting teachers. But Jewell Wilburn, president of the Kanawha County Education Associations, said the same rules don’t apply to administrators. "The rules for administrators are quite different," Wilburn said. "It allows for one or more of the criteria to carry a lot more weight."
Often, administrative promotions come down to lengthy and involved interview process. "I have a problem with the interview process itself," said board member Bill Raglin. "The best way to determine how a person will perform is to look at how they have performed."
Board member Betty Jarvis said principals who want to hire of promote their friends or relatives frequently change the job description so that only one person is qualified. She said she knows because it happened to her when she was a teacher. Jarvis said teachers are currently being told they can’t transfer to the new Riverside High School unless they take a certain class. "That’s not the law," she said.
Marple, who attacked the newspaper article as inaccurate and incomplete, warned school board members about becoming too involved in hiring. "I don’t think as board members you should begin usurping the authority of the professionals," she said. Marple also criticized the board for talking about the article. "I think the whole discussion does a disservice to the system," Marple said.
"In my opinion, the article was totally correct," Jarvis said. Despite Marple’s admonitions, the board passed a policy that would require the periodic review of all non-teaching administrative positions that aren’t paid for with state money to see if the positions are warranted or should be contracted out. The policy would apply to accounting, communications, legal staff and others and would affect between 20 and 30 employees, Marple said. The board also promised to work on a policy outlawing tinkering with job descriptions.
But the board narrowly shot down a policy that would require a written evaluation and reference from all supervisors before a school employee could be promoted. Critics said the policy, proposed by board member John Luoni, was too subjective.
The policy was amended by board member Cheryle Hall to make the evaluations secret, and she said they would eventually be destroyed. Board lawyer Greg Bailey said he thought the policy would have been illegal.
Board members also criticized school officials for sending them job changes after the fact. The board approved a lengthy list of resignations, hirings and transfers Friday, some of which were 2 months old.
But the board did flex its muscles Friday in turning down the promotion of DuPont Junior High School Vice Principal Mark Milam, who had applied for a position as principal at East Bank Junior High. Milam’s promotion was shot down by a vote or 3-2, with Raglin, Luoni and Jarvis voting against the change. The board approved the promotion, however, of Roosevelt Junior High band director Henry Graves to vice principal of Dunbar Junior High.
This is Part 3 of a five-part series examining a request by the Kanawha County school board to take on $98 million in debt to pay for repairs and upgrades to county schools. Voters will decide on the measure Saturday.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
At Sissonville High School, students spill into the halls during lunch because there's not enough room in the cafeteria.
At Capital High, the vocational wing was never outfitted with bathrooms or equipment.
At George Washington High School, students pick their way up a crumbling open staircase to get to school every day.
At South Charleston High School, the boys basketball team plays at a community center so the girls team can use the gym.
These are just a few of the reasons Kanawha County officials decided to request floating a $98 million school bond to repair and renovate the county's high schools and vocational centers.
The bond proposal will be put to a vote on Saturday.
"There's no other way to get this kind of money," says Superintendent Jorea Marple. "This is primarily about facilities since you don't have $98 million in the operating budget and you have to fix ADA Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and health and safety problems."
The $98 million would be split between seven high schools and two vocational centers. That includes $13 million for new computers and equipment at those schools.
The new construction would allow the remaining senior high schools to convert to grades nine through 12. That would create middle schools, with grades six through eight, throughout the county, and possibly allow more elementary schools to consolidate.
The exceptions are East Bank and DuPont, due to be consolidated into the new Riverside High School in 1999. That school is being built with help from a $12.6 million bond and $10 million from the School Building Authority.
Advocates say the bond will pay for a face-lift that will transform the physical and academic structure of Kanawha County's high schools.
"We really looked at how the buildings were going to drive the curriculum," said Lloyd Miller, a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee, a citizen group that worked on a countywide facilities plan for the past two years.
So while George Washington might get a new entrance if the bond passes, it will also have classrooms turned into long-distance learning labs with the cabling capacity to beam in lectures from Harvard or Yale.
While Nitro might get lots of new space for band and choir, it will also see new space designed around "career clusters" - classes in business or health science subjects. Several plans call for more space for ROTC classes.
"We need to bring our high schools up to scale so our students can compete with the rest of the world," said Marple. "Education is not the same as when you or I went to school. We're getting these kids ready for the global economy."
Four of the schools will get additions so ninth-graders can move from junior high schools.
That move is crucial to staff needs, says George Washington Principal Larry Lohan.
"The thing that is happening to a lot of the senior high schools is with declining enrollment, the number of staff has decreased," he said. "Any time you lose a staff person, you lose ability to offer curriculum."
George Washington lost two teachers last year because of declining enrollment.
"If we're able to convert all the high schools, that increases the staff and
it broadens possibility of curriculum offerings," he said. "The number of
graduation requirements has steadily increased, while teachers have declined."
The state funding formula needs to be changed, Lohan thinks, but the addition of ninth-graders helps.
Sissonville, Herbert Hoover and Nitro high schools added the ninth grade five years ago with minor additions. Principals at those schools say they're bursting at the seams.
"We've been overcrowded since we added the ninth grade," said Sissonville Principal Calvin McKinney. "We're in dire need of space."
St. Albans is designated for the lion's share of the money - $17 million - because it is the oldest and needs the most repairs. Only 7 years old, Capital gets a mere $5.8 million to outfit the vocational wing and add room for ninth-graders.
"This will do what was supposed to be done when the school was built," said Capital Principal John Clendenen.
The changes were designed with input from teachers and parents; they can be changed the same way if the bond passes.
The bond seems distant for many students, considering construction wouldn't finish until most of them have graduated.
"This place is falling down, it really needs some work," said one St. Albans student who wished to remain anonymous. The St. Albans community has wanted to fix up their high school for a long time. But there are parts of the county that thought the bond should focus on other projects.
In Sissonville, for example, the high school is in far better condition than the middle school. Citizens lobbied for a new middle school, which was included in the first Blue Ribbon plan. After that plan came in at $246 million, however, it was trimmed to the high schools.
"There is a faction of people who feel that way who could hurt the bond," McKinney said.
Still, school officials think the high school bond could start the process to fix all the county's facility problems.
"If this passes, it will certainly help us," McKinney said.
Dick Corporation has the major responsibility for construction of Riverside High School 12 miles southeast of Charleston that combines education and community services all under one roof.
"It's a state-of-the-art school that meets the changing needs of the community," project manager Joe Zukowski said of the 190,000-square-foot facility.
Dick, which was awarded $7.5 million general contractor package by the Kanawha County School District, began construction in May.
The overall $26 million project, a merger of DuPont and East Bank high schools, is anticipated to have a 1,500-student enrollment when it opens in 1999. The entire design was provided by the Charleston architectural firm of Clint Bryan & Associates.
The two-story brick facility will serve the community in a variety of ways beyond education. It will include a bank with an ATM, health care provided by CAMC, a state police barracks and a day-care center for faculty members and area residents.
In addition, the school library will serve as a branch of the county library. Students and residents will have access to a bookstore comparable to those found on college campuses.
The school itself will consist of 67 classrooms, nine science labs and two computer labs, a television studio and two art studios, as well as an area for technical education and another for food science. Zukowski noted that as part of its responsibility, Dick is coordinating the activities of eight prime contractors on site.
Riverside will contain a 12,000-square-foot main gymnasium with a seating capacity of nearly 1,500, and a 6,200-square-foot auxiliary gym that will seat 160.
A large commons area with a skylight will serve as a cafeteria. An auditorium, featuring a stage and state-of-the-art technical equipment, will have a seating capacity of 460.
The main challenge for Dick during construction is accessibility. The site is bounded by the Kanawha River and a Conrail yard. "Our only access for most of the project is a road that runs through the rail yard," said Zukowski, who stressed that vehicular traffic must be coordinated with the movement of the trains in the yard.
"The school district, with the cooperation of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, is planning to build an overpass over the rail yard to the school property, but the road won't be completed until near the end of the project."
The above article was reprinted from the Dick Corporation corporate newsletter.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
Schools officials are preparing to condemn the land they will need to build the new Riverside High School, although they will continue to negotiate with property owners to buy the land.
"We could start the proceedings so that the process is in place so we could acquire the property in timely fashion," said school board attorney Greg Bailey.
For the past week, school officials have been negotiating with the Quincy Coal Co. to buy about 45 acres of land between the Kanawha River and U.S. 60 in Quincy.
The negotiations will continue, Bailey said. Condemnation proceedings would allow school officials to start work on the land without actually owning it.
"We haven't been able to really get focused because the land that is to be taken hasn't been detailed yet," said Don Pauley, vice president of Quincy Coal.
He represents the descendants of the Dickinson family, who have owned that stretch of riverfront property since the 1800s.
Pauley said school officials are working on final plans for the overpass to the school, the parking lot and other details. Because the designs for the school continue to change, so does the exact amount of land.
Riverside High will consolidate East Bank and DuPont high schools.
It will be paid for with a $12.7 million school bond issue and $10 million from the School Building Authority.
The school is scheduled to open in 1998, but it faces an extremely tight schedule. It is crucial to start work soon to meet that schedule, Bailey said.
School officials completed an appraisal on the property last month, but they did not release those numbers to the public.
In a tentative budget on the school, almost $1 million was slated for land acquisition, said facilities director Chuck Wilson.
"We don't have a report from the appraiser, because we don't know exactly what to appraise yet," Pauley said.
School boards may use the right of eminent domain to condemn property for their use. To start the process, Bailey will have to file a petition with the county commission.
Architect Clint Bryan said the school designs continue to change. He had to enlarge the school to include a public health clinic and a public library branch at the school. Most recently, One Valley Bank signed a contract to open a branch at the school.
"Those changes take time on an already tight schedule," Bryan said.
In addition, the Division of Highways has changed its plans for an overpass to the school several times. DOH has agreed to pay $750,000 toward the building the two-lane overpass to serve the high school and Diamond community.
Both Bailey and Pauley said the negotiations were friendly.
"The owners have been very cooperative," Bailey said. "They've allowed us to do a lot of preliminary work."
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
When Capital High School was almost ready to open in 1989, Principal John Clendenen sought teachers from all over the county. Because he had such a large pool to choose from, he asked that all applicants be certified in two fields and have master’s degrees and technology experience.
"I had some flexibility in advertising my positions that was relevant to the skills that I wanted," Clendenen said.
As a result, he said 80 percent of Capital’s staff have master’s degrees.
When Riverside High School consolidates East Bank and DuPont high schools in 1999, Principal Richard Clendenin won’t have the same flexibility.
After Capital opened, the Legislature passed a law requiring a county to decide if a consolidated school should be staffed by the teachers of the closed schools.
Every Kanawha County faculty senate except Capital’s voted to give East Bank and DuPont teachers the first pick for jobs at Riverside.
"There are two schools of thought on this," said Jewell Wilburn, the county representative of the West Virginia Education Association. "On the one hand, everybody gets a shot at the jobs; on the other, you give preference to the people who are being displaced."
Clearly, principals have a different outlook from teachers.
"I would like to have a little more latitude and authority in hiring staff and I think I speak for just about any principal," said Clendenin, who still serves as principal of East Bank. "It’s not that the two staffs aren’t qualified, but I am not really permitted to interview, and I can’t do anything but go on hiring according to seniority."
He already hired the new school’s lead teachers from East Bank and DuPont, based solely on seniority.
Most teachers from the two schools support the selection process.
"It’s a fair way to handle it since it was voted on in all faculty senates," said Deborah Greene, DuPont High School’s faculty senate.
Capital’s Clendenen said the law picked up steam after people perceived that he was "raiding" schools of their best and brightest teachers.
"With all the expectations you have for a new school, not having the flexibility to get the best staff you can find would be frightening to me as a school administrator," Clendenen said.
In fact, he said, about two-thirds of Capital’s staff came from Stonewall and Charleston high schools, the two closed schools.
Riverside’s Clendenin said he will only be able to hire outside the two high schools if no one is qualified for some of the new classes, like geology or archaeology.
East Bank and DuPont teachers have been offered the training to qualify them for Riverside’s planned technology-rich curriculum.
"We can’t force teachers to be trained outside of their employment, but most of them have taken advantage of the training," Clendenin said.
Riverside will be grades 9 through 12, creating middle schools of grades 6 through 8. Ninth-grade teachers from the two junior highs can apply at Riverside if they currently teach more than 50 percent of ninth-grade classes.
The new high school will need anywhere from 60 to 100 teachers, based on student numbers, Clendenin said.
He doesn’t expect anyone to lose a job because the school system will probably absorb teachers who are not hired at Riverside.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
The sign beckons across the crowded cafeteria, with the digital time blinking above a succulent poster of a Hershey's Cookie and Cream bar.
Next to the Hershey's poster is a well-lit list of January's current events and historical dates.
The Market Service Corp. in Cranberry, N.J., gave the sign to Capital High School for free.
In return, the school has to change the posters once a month to advertise a different product.
A TV monitor hangs on the wall above the sign. The Whittle Co. put monitors in every classroom. The Capital High TV station can run Whittle's news and entertainment shows on them.
In return, the school runs 10 minutes of Channel One, Whittle's current events show every morning, along with selected advertisements.
Around the corner, a row of Pepsi and Coke machines lines the wall. The companies put the machines in for free.
In return, the school gets a generous cut from the profits that helps buy paper, postage and other essentials not covered by the school board.
It's a Faustian bargain that happens in school all over the country. Schools get greatly needed supplies; corporations get free advertising to a captive and potentially lucrative student audience.
That 6- to 19-year-old buyers market in the United States is estimated to be worth about $485 billion a year.
"Everybody is out to make a buck, and companies take the path of least resistance," said East Bank Principal Richard Clendenin.
Pepsi paid for the new scoreboard at East Bank. It's decorated with the Pepsi logo.
"What can we do to stop it when they wave the big dollar?" Clendenin asked. "Not much, because we are poor and they help our programs."
Pepsi also makes banners for East Bank. The company that provides the caps and gowns gives the school extra plaques for awards. Those items aren't included in school budgets.
"The bottling companies give schools a pretty good deal because it's free advertising and it's habit-forming for life," said Capital Principal John Clendenen. "I don't know why we don't get the same deal from the dairy companies."
A recent New York Times story said that the school board in Seattle recently voted to allow corporate advertising in the city's middle and high schools. In Colorado Springs, Colo., school buses sell advertising on the sides, just like city buses.
About 40 percent of secondary schools in the country start the day with Channel One, just like Capital.
"We didn't have the money for monitors in any classrooms when we opened the school," Clendenen said.
He said companies have tried to sell the school book covers with free advertising on them, like Nike or Calvin Klein. He won't allow it.
At the same time, especially in West Virginia, business are urged to get more involved with area schools. Prominent business people helped shape the state's most massive education legislation in years, the Jobs Through Education Act.
Kanawha county school officials have supported and encouraged partnerships between businesses and schools. Businesses send employees into the schools, pay for school supplies, show kids their workplace. They also get some free publicity.
Take Acordia, the insurance company. It bought Internet hardware for the students and paid for a new paint job at Horace Mann Junior High School. Acordia painted its logo - a huge eagle - on the outside wall that faces MacCorkle Avenue traffic.
"If it promotes the mission of the school system and the broadly based educational program without a great emphasis on commercial nature of the source, then I don't think we have a problem," said Charlene Byrd, communication director for Kanawha County schools.
The new Riverside High School will have a Charleston Area Medical Center health clinic and a One Valley Bank branch as part of its mission as a community center. Students will also be able to intern in them.
Other banks were invited to respond, but One Valley was the only one that did. Naturally, a new generation of teen bankers has an easy choice of where to open their first checking account.
Richard Clendenin said advertising in schools pales beside what students see on TV.
"It doesn't bother me because they have a lot of tube time and I know they get it there," he said.
But last year, the Consumers Union in Yonkers, N.Y., publishers of Consumer Reports magazine, prepared a report called "Captive Kids: Commercial Pressures on Kids at School."
It listed some of the most blatant advertisers in schools. The report was also concerned that free products also produce biased or false information to kids. Take, for example, the "Prego Thickness Experiment." Elementary children test Prego and Ragu spaghetti sauce to see which is thicker.
Or the "100% Smart Energy to Go," which promotes Snickers Bars as a good source of energy. Or the American Coal Foundation's "Power From Coal" booklet which suggests that "the earth could benefit rather than be harmed from increased carbon dioxide" that comes from coal.
The report recommends that schools become ad-free zones and parents and teachers should teach children about propaganda and commercial messages.
Last of all, the report suggests, look at why schools have such budget problems in the first place: "Insist that all corporations pay their fair share of school funding," it reads.
CHRISTOPHER MILLETTE/Sunday Gazette-Mail
On Nov. 15, Kanawha County voters will decide whether their school system needs a $98 million bond issue to renovate and enlarge the county's high schools and vocational centers. The bond would create space at the high schools to add ninth-graders, allowing junior highs to become grade 6-8 middle schools. The bond also includes $13 million for more computers and technology equipment in high schools. Superintendent Jorea Marple was invited to discuss the bond vote with Gazette Publisher Craig Selby, Editor James Haught, editorial writer Dan Radmacher and education reporter Linda Blackford. This is a condensation of the discussion.
MARPLE: The bond covers one of five different areas in which we have to bring about improvement. The citizens of Kanawha County need to know that there has been substantial improvement in four areas.
The first area is that of educational quality. Our school system has made dramatic improvement, and facts support that. First of all, we were selected by Columbia University last summer as one of 60 progressive school systems in America. Forty-three of our 88 schools have been identified either as national Blue Ribbon schools, West Virginia Blue Ribbon schools or state Schools of Excellence. Our test scores are now above the state and national average. Our SAT scores are at a five-year high, with more students taking the exam than ever before. Our kindergarten test scores have improved 15 percent.
Last year our seniors received $3.5 million in academic scholarships because of their academic performance. We had over 400 students enrolled in higher-education courses within our high schools.
We have students out doing community service. They completed over 600 projects last year and we're going to double that. We have 500 students in alternative education programs - we're going to double that.
That means the disruptive students are now finding themselves in an alternate location. So, the facts really support that the quality of our programs are at a higher level.
The second arena that we work diligently on is staff and student accountability. That means raising standards for student performance and raising standards for employee performance. Last year we set ou minimum requirements for students in grades 6-12. In addition to that, we said very clearly to students: "We expect you to take tougher courses, and we expect you all to work harder." The reason for our billboards is to send a message to students: "You are going to work harder in Kanawha County Schools and we expect you to do more."
Also, we have higher accountability for teachers and administrators We've sent a clear message that we're not going to allow poor teaching in our classrooms without holding the principal accountable for putting those teachers on a plan of improvement. The same is true with principals, so that administrators also are putting them on plans of improvement. All that sends a message of accountability or performance which is important as you move forward.
The third area is fiscal responsibility. Even though we had a lot of criticism for mistakes we've made - we're going to make mistakes - I think the facts support that we're moving forward. We've operated in the black for the past four years in Kanawha County schools. Because we've done that, bond rating institutions have given us a higher rating. And because of the higher rating in the only bond that has been passed in 30 years - for Riverside High - we're now saving $2.5 million in interest payments that won't have to be paid by the citizens of Kanawha County.
We reduced the excess levy from 100 percent to 93 percent. Kanawha County has always had a 100 percent excess levy, but we lowered tax rates to the citizens. We're fiscally responsible, despite the inordinate burden of federal and state mandates that are unfunded. We have a carryover balance. Two things were done with that money:
First, we increased school supplies and materials. In a four-year period, we've gone from $25 per student to around $70 per student for supplies, materials, equipment, traveling, support, field trips. The other thing we did with that carry-over balance was to provide for a raise for our employees. I think that's really important. If you want an exemplary school system, you have to be able to pay people at the top of the scale. Kanawha County should not be sixth in the state.
Therehad not been a county raise for teachers in seven years and we felt that was a prudent thing to do.
So, stronger educational programs, stronger accountability, better management - and the fourth area we've worked on is operations and maintenance. We're underfunded in the maintenance area, and we've sought ways in which we can improve what we do in that arena.
HAUGHT: Before you talk about the bond issue, I thought you were forbidden by law to take sides in a public election, and could talk only on the basis of providing information?
MARPLE: Well, there's a lot of discussion about that. I think that I have a duty and responsibility to everyone. According to the secretary of state, one can advocate when you're not working, but since I'm always working, it's hard to find the time.
We have a number of health and safety issues in the school system, and there are only two sources of capital-improvement money to deal with them: going for a bond issue, or getting it from the SBA state School Building Authority.
So, I think I have a duty as superintendent to say clearly to the public that this is the only avenue to fix some of the things that need to be fixed in our school system.
Anyway, in my long opening statement, I was summing up improvements we've made in a lot of areas. I don't think you can go out and talk to the people about why a bond is needed unless you're able to tell the public how you're improving in all the areas that make an outstanding school system.
Now, the final area is that of facilities. It is reasonable that students find themselves in safe facilities which don't hinder the educational program. Unfortunately, there is no funding for capital improvements without a bond or without receiving it from the SBA, and the amount of funds the SBA has is quite limited.
In Kanawha County, there hasn't been a bond passed in 30 years, except for the Riverside bond. Before it, the last one was for around $9 million in 1967.
We've had elaborate studies on what our facility needs are. We've involved thousands of people. There has been a lot of input. There's been a lot of study about all the state requirements, all the fire code requirements, all the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, to come up with what we need to do with our schools.
When we developed this plan, it came in at a price tag for 36 schools at $230 million. So the committee said to us, we have to prioritize, and that leaves us with where we are now with the $98 million bond. We did prioritize - we selected, what I believe, makes the best sense in where we need to start with facilities.
SELBY: The excess levy was reduced from 100 percent to 93 percent. Since we do not have a maintenance fund, why not use those funds - the 7 percent cut from the excess levy - to go into maintenance?
MARPLE: First of all, we have increased the amount of money going into maintenance. Last year the board approved $1 million for fire cod violations and health and safety issues. But one has to balance bringing about improvement in all five areas, and there are financial needs in every single area. So every year we work hard to improve in all five areas.
This is the first time in four years we've had a capital improvement fund, so that when there are emergencies, we can deal with those.
SELBY: The biggest complaint I've heard is the lack of ongoing maintenance in all the schools.
MARPLE: You're talking about 88 buildings. You're talking about buildings that are 55 and 70 years old. There's always maintenance needs that you can't address. But, I think, comparatively, we're at the national and surrounding-state average maintenance expenditure per student.
BLACKFORD: I think people need to understand why this particular bond formation came about through the Blue Ribbon committee - why the need for 9-12 high schools and 6-8 middle schools emerged as a priority for them.
MARPLE: Well, there are a variety of reasons. The most important reason for the conversion to 9-12 and 6-8 grade configuration is: it increases your ability to deliver a broader range of programs in high schools. By moving ninth-graders into the high schools, you're increasing the enrollment and bringing those schools up to an economy of scale, so that our high schools will have a range of 1,000 to 1,500 students. You have teachers who have been in junior highs because they teach courses required for ninth-graders, so when you move them to the high school, you're able to expand program offerings.
SELBY: So the middle-school concept was curriculum-based.
MARPLE: The Blue Ribbon committee that developed it wanted a facility plan that supports the curriculum. So, I think the conversion to 9-12 and 6-8 does that - it supports what we want to see for students. It allows us to address, for instance, the concerns of St. Albans parents last year. They were very concerned that we weren't able to deliver at St. Albans the number of programs that we were able offer someplace else. By increasing the size of that school, by moving the ninth-graders in, you increase the opportunity to expand programs.
The same is true of 6-8 grade configuration. As students have matured a great deal in physical and social development, it's more appropriate to have students in 6-8 grade configuration.
SELBY: Do you have experience with the middle-school concept? Does it work?
MARPLE: Yes. I think it's a better concept than the traditional program we've offered. Another thing, by moving sixth-graders out of our elementary schools, it makes some elementary schools so small that consolidation becomes less of a problem. It's always a problem no matter how small the school is - but I think that we will be able to do consolidation when we get those sixth-graders out.
SELBY: Will this drastically reduce the number of elementary schools?
MARPLE: Over a period of time. But again, that involves passing other bonds. When we consolidate, it is often necessary to build, because it doesn't work in nice, neat packages to close one school and those students will all fit into an adjoining school. So it often requires a facility adjustment.
But, I think the successful passage of this bond addressing high school needs will show the public, as we have shown at Riverside, that we are able to manage funds for facility development effectively. Then we have to go back and ask for a future bond for our junior high schools and elementary schools.
HAUGHT: As this $98 million bond issue is paid off over 20 years, the payback would be over $200 million, I suppose?
MARPLE: I'm sure.
HAUGHT: I loathe bonds because they're a way for leaders to avoid paying for what they are doing. It defers the cost to the next leaders who come along. But there doesn't seem to be any other way to build anything. Nobody buys a house and just pays cash for it. Financing is the only way people live nowadays.
MARPLE: It is difficult. Unfortunately, as I said, you have bonds or the SBA. And the SBA simply does not have the funding to support what we need to do in Kanawha County.
HAUGHT: The SBA uses bond money too, doesn't it?
MARPLE: And lottery.
HAUGHT: Also, it seems perplexing that as the student body keeps shrinking, and we keep consolidating, it costs more and more money for schools. Why is more space needed for fewer students?
MARPLE: It is a complex answer to a question that seems to be rather simple: if you have fewer students, why do you have to have more programs? Well, there are a lot of different programs that weren't around when you and I were in school. For instance, the whole special-education arena, with state and federal requirements for the space that those students occupy.
And there's technology: computer labs that didn't exist 10 years ago are prevalent and necessary in all of our schools. High schools and junior highs may have four or five computer labs. They're essential, but also take up space.
SELBY: What is the percentage of graduating seniors who go into college?
MARPLE: Well, about 40 percent of the graduating class indicates they are going on to college. We are doing follow-up studies, which was not done in the past, to see what happens four years from now: where are those students and what are they doing?
SELBY: A major concern of WVU is that there are fewer graduates, and many of them don't go on to college. Is the percentage better than it was 10 years ago?
MARPLE: There are more students taking the SAT and ACT tests.
There are more students saying they're going on to college. I think it's imperative that we hold students more accountable for their performance. I talked to seniors last year who said they were going into medicine, who hadn't taken chemistry.
So that is the thrust of what we have been doing. It's not that we are mandating that students go into a certain career, but that they think it through and make sure they strengthen the core subjects they're required to take.
Courses will become more difficult. Sixty percent of the students in a study of 20,000 high school students said that they didn't work hard enough. So we really had a concentrated effort for the past two years of making students work harder. Some students are complaining that they are working harder, and I think that is good. They have to take tougher courses. They have to have a stronger core curriculum.
And another thing we have added is the availability of college courses. Students who never thought about going to college, never thought that was a possibility - when they actually take that class in high school, it becomes a possibility to them. We've strengthened the core curriculum, adding that option.
Between strengthening the curriculum and having the opportunity for college courses, I think you are going to see a student who is more successful in college when they go, and if they don't go, more successful in whatever they do, because they are better educated.
SELBY: What is going on in vocational education? When I was in school, they taught auto mechanics.
MARPLE: The whole school-to-work phenomena relates to vocational education. What we have seen historically is few students going into vocational programs because there is a stigma. In Kanawha County you had to leave your regular high school for half a day and go someplace else. We are working on many recommendations that change how vocational education operates.
More important, this whole arena of getting students to think clearly on what they want to do in the future and building a stronger core, so students, before they get to the vocational program, are better prepared. They can speak English, they can do math at a higher level. They are better prepared for the vocational area or the career arena.
SELBY: What kind of vocational jobs are these kids going into?
MARPLE: There are a lot of technology jobs that our vocational schools need to be equipped to prepare students for. A lot of the bond funds will go to design the classrooms, updating the technology in those vocational schools.
SELBY: Are you tracking the graduating seniors who aren't going on to college? Are they successful in finding decent employment?
MARPLE: No, we have not done a good job in saying what happens to our graduating seniors. That is why last year we put into place a tracking mechanism, so we can get some feedback. By and large, students who go into vocational schools and complete the training have a very high placement rate. If they complete auto mechanics or the welding program, then they get placed in a job. The problem is serving the number of students we need served. We have waiting lists in those areas where there are a lot of jobs available. So we need to beef up our career and vocational programming at the high schools and the vocational centers.
SELBY: Roosevelt Junior High is in deplorable condition and nothing has been done with it.
MARPLE: You have to prioritize. We couldn't do everything, and we had to say there would be another bond issue, maybe in another five years. If we built a new middle school for Roosevelt students, then the people in Sissonville, whose middle school is also in bad shape, would say, what about us?
We had to prioritize, and we felt that the high schools had to be that first priority. Those other priorities will be addressed down the line.
RADMACHER: So there will be another bond issue?
MARPLE: That was the original plan because there is no other way to address the facility problems we have. We had to prioritize, and in my opinion, at least, it makes more sense to fix the high schools now.
SELBY: Thank you very much, Superintendent Marple.
This is Part 2 of a five-part series examining a request by the Kanawha County school board to take on $98 million in debt to pay for repairs and upgrades to county schools. Voters will decide on the measure Saturday.
Byline: Linda B. Blackford
County school systems educate children, but their parents foot the bill. After all, nearly 60 percent of all the money raised in property taxes in Kanawha County goes to schools. Most of the money for teachers and supplies comes in through regular and excess levies.
Bond issues, like the $98 million one up for a vote in Kanawha County on Saturday, are usually used for school construction. Bonds are sold, the school board gets the cash for construction. An increase in property taxes pays back the debt on the bond.
Although bond and levy proceeds both come from property taxes, there are crucial differences between them.
Public bodies such as the school board or the county commission set levy rates. The school board sets the tax rate on its regular and excess levies. The county commission sets rates for the countywide regular levy and the bus and ambulance levy. (The bus and ambulance levy will be up for renewal on the same ballot as the upcoming school bond issue Saturday.
The county tax assessor's office applies the levy rates and bond rates, then calculates people's property taxes.
Take Mr. X. He lives in Charleston in a house that was appraised at $70,000. (The appraised values are NOT always the same as the market values, which fluctuate. They're supposed to be the same, but appraisals are only done on a three-year cycle.)
Mr. X's taxes are based on the assessed value of his house, or 60 percent of its appraisal. He actually pays taxes based on that assessed value, or $42,000.
When all of Kanawha County's current levy and bond rates are combined, Mr. X would pay about $1.52 for every $100 of his assessed property, or $639 a year.
"That includes everything and we calculate it on the computer," said Steve Sluss, the attorney for the assessor's office. The tax ticket that arrives every August shows the flat rate, instead of separating all the different levies.
In 1992, the Kanawha County school board moved the excess levy rate from 100 percent to 93 percent. So people now pay 93 percent of whatever they paid for the regular levy on top of that.
In 1995, the county passed a $12.6 million bond for Riverside High School, which is still being repaid.
The school levies are voted on every five years, continuing as long as voters want them, but bonds are a one-shot deal. The voters must approve them in an election, which states exactly how the money will be spent. It's usually designated for building renovation and construction.
If the $98 million bond issue passes, then Mr. X will see about a $55 increase on his tax ticket next year or about 13 cents of every $100 of residential property.
"The excess levy is generally for the Board of Education's general funds," said David Kirby, a bond specialist from Wheatfirst Securities who is working on the upcoming Kanawha County bond. "But bond moneys cannot be used for anything other than to spend the bond proceeds according to what the referendum says."
Before 1982, bond issues had to pass with 60 percent of the vote. That was changed to a majority of the vote. If the bond issue passes, the bonds would be sold in the spring. A little over $98 million would be moved into a bank account and construction could start immediately.
The first tax collection with the tax increase from the bond would start paying the debt service on the bond. That debt will paid back over 20 years.
Kirby said because of low interest rates on bonds the past few years, he didn't think the interest would be more than $98 million, meaning the county would pay $196 million during the entire 20 years.
"I don't think with the bond rating we anticipate getting that you'll see interest over the 20-year period equal or exceed the $98 million," he said. "I would anticipate that Kanawha County will receive an A-plus from Standard and Poors, which is consistent with what other counties have gotten throughout the state."
Standard and Poors is a New York financial index company which rates the financial health of companies and organizations.
The bond referendum won't allow the bonds to be sold with more than 8 percent interest, but officials expect the interest to be considerably lower. The $12.6 million bond issue for Riverside High School in 1995 was sold with 4.9 percent interest.
Tax increases depend on the class of property. Senior citizens who are 65 and older or anyone deemed permanently and totally disabled get $20,000 reduced from their assessments as part of the Homestead Exemption Act. The exemption must be applied for at the county assessor's office. The deadline is Oct. 1 of every year.