Retired county educator opposes change of direction for schools
This is an open letter to Dr. James Phares, state superintendent of schools.
I am in opposition to your proposed change for the direction of Fayette County Schools. I was one of the members of the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) who met for months to formulate the plan for the education of ALL our students in Fayette County to prepare them for life’s preparation in the 21st Century. The composition of that committee included parents, teachers, service personnel, central office personnel, state board personnel with guided expertise and members of the business community.
The composition of the steering committee which you have appointed clearly is unfair to a committee charged with this responsibility you have designated as the new direction for the students attending Fayette County schools. Of all the parents, educators, business leaders, etc. who could serve, why did you appoint only the esteemed Carolyn Arritt and Paul McClung, a Summers County resident?
Dr. Sylvia L. Allen
Arrington: ‘My jaw dropped to the floor’
I attended the meeting of the Board of Education on May 6 to present the certificates to our students who competed in the 2013 W.Va. State Social Studies Fair. Other students and parents attended for Young Writers, Golden Horseshoe and FIT (Fayette Institute of Technology) awards. The room was packed. Dr. Phares, our new state superintendent, spoke about the effort under way to float a construction bond to keep all current schools open.
I hung around to hear the speakers. Good news for Valley High football teams. An agreement with WVU Tech will allow them to use Martin Field. Two parents spoke of improving our system. Carolyn Arritt, the Fayette County half of the duo organizing the bond call, reminded the board members they were to do the public’s will, not their own.
Leon Ivey, a current member of our Board of Education, rose to speak of his concerns about the bond call failing to deal with improving curriculum. It was when he announced the cost to bring all current schools into compliance that my jaw literally dropped to the floor. The price tag is a staggering $121,000,000 (Editor’s note: It was later announced the actual amount is $136 million). Superintendent Butcher passed out the report that backed up Ivey’s figure and stated that if we fail to act, the cost increases upwards to nearly $140,000,000 within just a couple of years.
The dilemma is that the bond capacity for Fayette County is only $67,000,000. If voters approved of such an amount, there is no guarantee the School Building Authority has the money, or the will, to match that amount, especially to repair schools that have so few students in them. Members of the advisory committee were told to develop needs and wish lists for projects at their schools.
I advise them to forget the wish list. It seems the architect report has changed the debate. The debate now is the emotional attachment we have with our small schools versus the cold hard truth we are up the proverbial creek, not only without a paddle, but sitting in a boat sinking from dozens of leaks. Do we continue to patch the leaks, or is it time to buy a new boat?