A closer look at SBA funding, projects and local matches

By Sarah Plummer

REGISTER-HERALDREPORTER

With around $150 million in funding requests from 20 counties to consider, the School Building Authority of West Virginia must weigh each county’s need, cost advantages due to school/project size, the merit of each proposed project, local funding matches and other criteria before allocating funds in December.

Of those counties now applying for funds, Kanawha County has received the most funding from the School Building Authority since its creation in 1989, — $74.1 million. Following Kanawha, Monongalia County has received $53.2 million; Raleigh County, $49.2 million; Harrison County, $47.5; and Logan County, $41.4.

Current applicants who have received the fewest allocations over the years are Wirt County with $9.7 million, Pocahontas with $10.6 million, Tucker with $15.9 million and Doddridge with $18.3 million.

Fayette County has received $21.7 million since 1989 and Mercer County has received $39.2 million.

These funding totals include Needs Project funding (which counties are applying for now), safe school funds, Major Improvement Plan funds (for projects between $50,000 and $500,000) and emergency funds.

Since 1989, the authority has allocated $634.3 million to counties for projects without bond financing as a local match, according to funding history data on the authority website. Those counties did bring to the table local funds raised without passing a bond.

This includes allocations of $75 million to Mc-Dowell, $62.4 million to Mingo and $50.2 million to Lincoln.

By far, Doddridge County is offering the largest local match, 69 percent of a $2.8 million project.

Raleigh County is offering a 51 percent match of a $40.8 million project and Logan is offering a 48 percent match on a $12.6 million project.

Mason County has no local match on a $4.2 million project, Calhoun is offering 2 percent of a $2.9 million project, Webster is offering 3 present on a $741,078 project and Braxton is offering 5 percent on a $2.4 million project.

Pocahontas County seeks funding for a $18.8 million project for renovations to Marlinton Middle and Greenbank Elementary/ Middle schools. They are offering $900,000, 5 percent, in a QZAB or lease-purchase agreement.

Fayette is bringing 30 percent to the table in local funds ($6 million) and a lease-purchase agreement ($11 million).

Mercer county has a 20 percent local match for its $11.5 million project,a new school to replace Ceres Elementary.

••• The School Building Authority gave significant attention to length of bus rides during presentations earlier this week.

The West Virginia Department of Education offers recommendations on how long bus rides should be for students by age. For elementary students, the recommend time is no longer than 30 minutes. Middle school recommendation is no longer then 45 minutes and no longer than 60 minutes for high school students.

Department of Education data from the 20142015 school year shows that thousands of students exceed those time recommendation.

Statewide, 8,255 elementary students, 3,258 middle school students and 1,845 high school students exceed those times on morning bus routes.

That includes 350 elementary students in Mason, 300 in Marshall and 284 in Greenbrier.

The highest number of high schools who exceed recommendation are 210 high schoolers in Cabell on morning bus runs followed by 94 in Lincoln and Braxton.

Fayette County numbers are 165 elementary, 28 middle school and 9 high school students who exceed recommended times on morning routes.

Respectively, those numbers are 276, 37 and 17 in Raleigh and 231, 105 and 30 in Mercer formorning bus routes.

••• Meadow Bridge residents expressed concern that numbers of Meadow Bridge High School students were not correct in Fayette Superintendent Terry George’s presentation before the School Building Authority Tuesday.

George said the slide was hastily finished after learning on Monday that Fayette County would be allowed to present. George said 96 was meant to represent the number of students attending Meadow Bridge from Fayette County alone, and could have been outdated information.

On Wednesday, Meadow Bridge High Principal Stacy White said there are 160 students in grades 9-12, between 36 and 47 in each grade level. There are 21 students who attend from Summers County in the entire high school, which includes grades 7 and 8, White said.

Twenty juniors and seniors travel to Oak Hill to attend the vocational school, she said.

In Wednesday’s edition, The Register-Herald mistakenly reported there were 16 counties who have applied for funding from the authority insteadof 20.

— Email: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer