By Stephen Smoot
As students continue to enjoy a well-earned summer break from books and homework, the Harrison County Board of Education discussed physical plant improvements that will improve the quality of the school experience for thousands in the county.
The meeting opened with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, then jumped into the Superintendent’s report. Dora Stutler, Harrison County Schools Superintendent, said “I was just sharing some information that we received from the state department.” She related that the audit of the special education department gave the result that “we did meet standards.”
She added that the state had approved the county budget and that the schools had to upgrade to receive two modules focusing on dyslexia education.
Next came the updates on facilities. Robert C. Byrd High School received a great deal of attention, including athletic facilities, the food lab, academic spaces, the cafeteria, and more. Simpson Elementary School was listed as the next to receive help, but after work at RCB is completed.
Work will then start at Liberty High School in the middle of the month.
All projects up for work in the near future have been bid out, excepting heating and air conditioning projects at Bridgeport Middle School and RCB. It was reported to the board that “we’re in pretty good shape.”
Looking ahead, the school system has several major projects that will get underway. South Harrison High School will receive a suite of secure entrance technology. “We’re doing that in house,” it was stated to the board. Three other schools, Mountaineer Elementary, Bridgeport Middle, and Bridgeport High School, will also have entrance security enhanced. Of the middle school, it was said that “it’s not hard to do.” Bridgeport High School, however, is “complicated.”
The United Technical Center greenhouse will benefit from major work, including pouring concrete and running drainage lines. “That’s a big project,” the board heard. Also, a state funded zone lighting project at Lincoln High School will be finished by Sept. 20.
Later in the session, the board heard plans to ensure that all county middle and high school gyms will have air conditioning installed by the end of the year, an action referred to as “long overdue.” The lowest reasonable bid, as defined by state law, came in at approximately $845,000.
Finally the board reviewed plans to repair and restore the baseball field and batting cage at RCB, which was damaged by flooding.
Discussion then turned to the possibility of obtaining grant funded electric school buses as part of a United States Environmental Protection Agency clean school bus initiative. Green Power and Matheny Motors will assist with the application, but “the chance of us getting a grant is slim.” It was added that “we’re shooting to get one of the buses the state has already purchased,” at a potential value of between $250 and $300,000. A memorandum of understanding with Highland Electric would also be required to have the proper infrastructure for electric buses installed.
In other business, the board approved meeting dates for the 2023-24 school year, but also stated that “it’s not like they are not going to move around.”
The board closed the public part of its meeting, going into executive session to discuss issues that included proprietary business information protected by state law.