Debbie RolenStaff Writer
March 1, 2013
The Logan County Board of Education (LBOE) released a statement with bad news about the plans to build a new Logan Elementary School that would replace the current school located at Midelburg Island.
Citing issues of securing a suitable piece of property within the school zone that meets SBA standards, the LBOE voted unanimously not to build the school at this time.
The LBOE was awarded a $9 million grant by the West Virginia School Building Authority [SBA] on April 16, 2012, to build a new school. Total cost of the project was estimated at $18 million, meaning the LBOE would bear construction costs exceeding the grant funding.
The project included a plan to consolidate Verdunville Grade School and Logan Elementary. A site for the new school was located near the Fountain Place Mall between U.S. Route 119 and State Route 73. A letter of intent to purchase the property was signed and a selling price discussed prior to the SBA awarding the grant.
In the fall of 2012, the board met with the property owner and learned the selling price for the property was $1 million more that discussed in the letter of intent, a 45 percent increase.
The board re-evaluated the site due to concerns including conflicting estimates about the depths of underground mines on the property, a news report in November 2012 about pending litigation related to flooding near the intended site and other general concerns about the property.
These issues led the board to begin searching for an alternative site for the school. Several properties within the school zone were researched and considered, but none met both the board’s vision and the SBA’s approval.
In January, the board met with the SBA to discuss how the property issues would affect the grant status. Two options were presented: keep the grant funding or return the grant funds and reapply when a suitable site for the new school is secured.
If the funds were kept, the board would have to comply with SBA contract terms and pay delay costs of $1,500 to $2,000 per day dating back to October 16, 2012, costs that would continue to mount daily until an approved site was secured.
Considering the options and the fact a suitable site, as defined by the SBA, had not been located, the board made the decision to release the grant funds back to the SBA. The decision was made in an effort to avoid substantial financial penalties, which could greatly decrease grant funding and increase costs the board would have to pay for constuction.
The board does anticipate building the school at a later date and is going to request a planning grant to continue its search for a suitable piece of property.