CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s back to the drawing board in Fayette County after the state School Building Authority struck down a school consolidation plan in a vote taken Monday during a meeting in Charleston.

The proposal, which changed the county’s school facilities plan, was approved by members of the state Board of Education earlier this month on a 6-3 vote, but the SBA refused to sign-off on it Monday, killing it.

“This is not the right time,” SBA member Tom Lange told MetroNews. “We asked them to go back to the drawing board and come back with a plan that people could get behind.”

Fayette County voters have rejected bond issue after bond issue since the 1970s and did so again earlier this year. Terry George was named school superintendent after the latest defeat and formed a plan in which he hoped to secure funding without the benefit of a bond issue. That’s a dangerous precedent, Lange said.

“We want to be a helping hand not a hand out,” Lange said. “What kind of message would we be sending? If you defeat a bond we’re going to vote you a $50 million high school? It would send the wrong message across the state.”

The SBA will have limited resources when it allocates funds for school construction projects in December. It usually always favors counties that have local funding to go along with the state money. Superintendent George told the SBA the county would have at least $6 million in local funding.

George should work to build consensus in the various communities, including Meadow Bridge, before putting another bond issue before voters, Lange said.

“It always works from the bottom up never from the top down. You have to give people ownership and the thing is—Meadow Bridge can’t take the attitude, ‘Leave us alone,’” Lange said.

The main part of plan would consolidate Meadow Bridge, Oak Hill, Midland Trail and Fayetteville high schools. Valley High in Smithers would have remained open. The current high school buildings would have become middle schools.

Lange said the SBA would be “more than happy” to consider a plan that is going to benefit all of the kids in the county.

“They have to figure it out,” Lange said.

The state Board of Education seized control of the Fayette County system several years ago with facilities many one of several reasons for the takeover. A section of Collins Middle School in Oak Hill was forced to close late last year because of structural problems.