National education leaders giving money for supplies at flooded West Virginia schools

By Shauna Johnson in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — First comes cleaning, then comes repairs and resupplying at the more than two dozen West Virginia schools damaged, in some form, in the June 23rd flood.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, is pledging his organization’s support for the affected teachers and students with about six weeks remaining before the start of the 2016-2017 school year in parts of the Mountain State.
“Everybody’s suffered enough right now and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to reach out and help all of our students come in with the things that they need to be successful,” Lee said.

On Wednesday, Lee talked with MetroNews from the National Education Association’s 154th Annual Meeting and 95th Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C. as flood damage assessments continued in West Virginia’s schools.

The 8,000 educators from across the U.S. on hand to talk about education policies for the upcoming school year were making donations to the West Virginia Foundation for the Improvement of Education.

Those donations will be distributed to schools and teachers in need, according to Lee. In places, entire school classrooms, media rooms, cafeterias and libraries were destroyed.

Additionally, toiletries for flood victims were being collected at the conference.

Later this summer, Lee said the WVEA planned to assist with school supply drives, coordinate supply allocations from unaffected West Virginia counties and draw on additional outside help from the NEA.

“Teachers will end up spending their summer getting prepared for August and, with a lot of their supplies gone, it’s going to be a very busy summer for them,” Lee said.

In a report from the state Board of Education, the school sites with the most severe damage as of Wednesday morning were Herbert Hoover High School, Clendenin Elementary and Bridge Elementary in Kanawha County; H.E. White Elementary School and the bus garage in Clay County; and Richwood High School, Richwood Middle School and Summersville Middle in Nicholas County.

“I’m not sure that all of them will able to open on time, but teachers are very resilient and will come up with some alternative schedules or, maybe, some sharing of buildings and things like that,” Lee said.

Teachers, he said, always “find a way to improvise” to make sure their kids don’t lose instruction time.

“We’re going to make sure that these kids are not going to suffer anymore devastation after the losses they’ve had,” Lee said.