MASON COUNTY — Members of Mason County School Board traveled to Putnam County this past Monday to continue a discussion about the possibility of a consolidated elementary school.
Mason County Schools Superintendent Suzanne Dickens has said that after the meeting between the two school boards, no action was taken.
“Mason County Board of Education convened at the Career Center on Monday evening and traveled to Putnam County to meet with the Putnam County Board of Education,” Dickens said in an email to The Point Pleasant Register earlier this week., “The purpose of the joint meeting was to ascertain interest in a joint regional school. No action was taken at the meeting.”
Harold Hatfield, superintendent of Putnam County Schools, said in an interview earlier this month that the idea is still in the inception stage. He said that the two school boards “have had conversations,” but that so far the idea has been “just an exploration.”
The proposed plan would consolidate the Leon and Buffalo Elementary Schools in a new facility, as opposed to renovating each or building two new schools. Hatfield added that a “pro” of the would-be project is geographical; the Leon community, he said, is closer to Buffalo than to Point Pleasant. Hatfield mentioned that a similar project is already in progress in West Virginia. Gilmer and Lewis Counties have a similar project between them, Hatfield said.
Hatfield added that Mark Manchin of the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) has encouraged Putnam County Schools to identify an architectural firm in case of an agreement between Putnam and Mason County Schools. Manchin has said that the cost of building a new consolidated elementary school would likely be less than the cost of renovation or building two new elementary schools, and that the SBA has funds earmarked for rebuilding and refurbishing projects over the next two years.
The Putnam board has identified Williams Shriver Architects, Inc.; board members voted a few weeks ago to contract services with the firm. Hatfield commented that the firm has been contracted to help in the event that that the schools do decide to move forward with a consolidation.