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SBA director: Present square-footage fee for brand spanking new college development isn’t sufficient

Subsequent month, 28 public college districts from throughout West Virginia will current their wants tasks to the state College Constructing Authority.

The SBA is the company that doles out the {dollars} for brand spanking new development and different large-scale endeavors, equivalent to classroom additions and gymnasiums.

Nevertheless, these petitioners must do their math homework first, the authority’s government director Andy Neptune stated.

As in, contractor-math, stated Neptune, a former instructor and administrator in Marion County Faculties who was summoned to Charleston for his new job by Gov. Jim Justice this previous January.

The SBA has that very same task, Neptune stated.

At challenge: The present fee the authority pays per sq. footage for the requested work.

Stated fee at the moment comes out to $307 per sq. foot, which has been the authority’s normal since 2019, as set by its development committee.

Then, COVID confirmed up.

And costs for supplies rocketed up – just like the hand of the sensible child within the entrance row.

“That’s not likely a ‘true’ quantity for us proper now,” Neptune stated.

It didn’t take lengthy, he stated, to comprehend that $307 in pre-COVID cash simply isn’t the identical as $307, post-pandemic.

Counties preserve having to file requests for supplemental funds from his company, he stated.

Ought to an preliminary request are available at $20 million for a brand new college – “I’m simply placing that out for example,” he stated – the hypothetical county is probably going going to have to move again, hat in hand.

“They received’t have sufficient to pay for it,” he stated. “We have to set a fee that’s extra sound with our present market.”

He’s spent the previous 4 months or so watching what college districts in neighboring Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky have been doing in relation to their infrastructure wants.

And he’ll preside over one other assembly with that very same committee on Monday, for extra reconfiguring.

Reconfiguring, Neptune is aware of.

A++, for effort

Earlier than the governor’s name, he was directing upkeep and amenities administration companies for Marion County Faculties, which gave him his first job as a instructor at East Dale Elementary 34 years in the past.

East Dale isn’t considered one of them, however a lot of Marion’s colleges are nearing the century mark.

The unique Mannington Excessive College, now a center college, dates again to 1925.

And there’s Fairmont Senior, with its 1928 time-stamp.

Nonetheless different colleges and amenities got here in via President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration.

Fairmont’s multiuse East-West stadium was in-built 1938 as a WPA venture.

The previous excessive colleges of Fairview, Monongah, Rivesville and Neptune’s hometown Barrackville – all very a lot in use as center colleges right this moment – carry the WPA mark of their masonry, as properly.

Farmington Excessive, of that very same classic, was misplaced to mine subsidence in 1975.

Through the years, the district subsequent door has labored round buildings adorned with architectural time-period particulars that wanted preserving – even whereas being retrofitted for the college security measures which mirror a brand new order in Appalachia and America.

There have been roofs coated by worn-out shingles that had been longer manufactured, even.

And concrete partitions with a bunker-thickness of 4 toes – which didn’t make for simple drilling, because the county discovered within the Nineteen Nineties when the primary of Marion’s colleges had been being wired for the web.

Faculties constructed to final – however not evolve.

Proper earlier than his SBA appointment, he oversaw a turf-replacement venture on the aforementioned East-West Stadium and the set up of a 10-lane monitor at North Marion Excessive College.

Since taking on, he’s visited 38 of West Virginia’s 55 public college districts, assembly with superintendents and lecturers, whereas touring the buildings the place all the training and lesson plans start every day.

The highway journeys have given him a good better respect for these advancing training within the Mountain State, he stated.

“All our counties are all just a bit bit completely different from each other,” the SBA chief stated.

“However they’ve all obtained folks doing their finest work for our children.”