Replacement for flooded Greenbrier County school among proposals to SBA

By Shauna Johnson in News
GREENBRIER COUNTY, W.Va. — A replacement for Rupert Elementary School in Greenbrier County, a school that sustained damage in the June flood, is among the school construction proposals the state School Building Authority is considering.

The Greenbrier County request to the SBA is for $4.9 million in funding for a new Rupert Elementary School that, as proposed, would be combined with $500,000 in local Greenbrier County funding for a $5.1 million addition to the existing Western Greenbrier Middle School.

As proposed, “Rupert Elementary will retain its own identity. It’ll have its own separate entrance. It’ll have its school name,” explained Jeff Bryant, superintendent of schools in Greenbrier County.

“Basically, just a mile and a half down the road, we would be actually relocating Rupert Elementary.”

If funded, plans call for the existing Rupert Elementary School to be permanently closed at the end of construction.

“The school has periodically and historically been prone to flooding and it’s been flooded, never to the level of June 23, but it has experienced that,” Bryant told MetroNews.

“As FEMA commented, if we were to retain that school at the current location and, if it floods again, they will not provide funding.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is covering 75 percent of the costs of the repairs to Rupert Elementary School, with a 25 percent local match, after damaging high water made it into the first floor in June.

The 220 students at Rupert Elementary School, the most extensively flooded school building in Greenbrier County, returned to the classrooms for the start of the 2016-2017 school year on time following massive cleaning and repair efforts.

Bryant described Greenbrier County’s proposed $500,000 contribution for a Rupert replacement as a financially “responsible” proposal, based on declining enrollment in his county’s schools.

For the first time, enrollment is below 5,000 in Greenbrier County — at 4,959 — with 145 fewer students this year compared with last year.

The enrollment decline, according to Bryant, is directly linked to the June flood.

“People just left the area,” he said. “A lot of the folks in the flood-prone area, it was rental property and there was nothing to support that in other locations in the county so, unfortunately, people had to leave.”

Bryant, who was scheduled to make the Rupert presentation on Monday afternoon in Charleston, is representing one of the 19 counties seeking a portion of the $28.5 million the state School Building Authority has to allocate for school construction projects this year.

There’s another $14.2 million in potential funding for multi-year projects.

For the full list of school construction projects being pitched to SBA on Monday afternoon and through the day Tuesday, CLICK HERE.

The schedule is as follows:

Beginning at 2 p.m. Monday

Beginning at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday

Funding decisions will be made at an SBA meeting scheduled for Dec. 11.