FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The Marion County Board of Education will place a 19.6 million dollar bond on the ballot for the May 14th primary election.

The five-year bond proposal is a scaled-back version of the initial proposal presented to the board.

Bond committees representing regions of the county originally assembled a list of renovations totaling $30 million to be funded through a bond to be approved by voters and a $25 million request from the School Building Authority (SBA). Marion County Schools Superintendent Donna Heston said the project list has been pared down to about $19.6 million, and the request to the SBA for a new school to combine Pleasant Valley and East Park Elementary schools has been reduced to $20 million.

“This board is also proposing to do instead of a 10-year bond but reduce it to a five-year bond,” Heston said. “That’s very smart decision-making because the public can see what you do in five years.”

One of the top projects on the list is the transformation of the Barrackville facility into a K–8 building and the addition of a full-fledged gymnasium.

“We’ll do a two-classroom addition with a 7,000-square-foot gymnasium that would be added to that facility,” Heston said. “That was the number one project that came out of the North Marion Bond Committee.”

Other projects on the list include:

$3.2 million for the East Fairmont High School roof and drainage renovations. Phase I athletic facility: track, turf, and seating.

$3,785,764 for the contribution of the bond for the construction project—New East Park/Pleasant Valley
Elementary schools are contingent upon SBA requests and approval.

$3.2 for Fairmont Senior High School East-West Stadium: turf, new bleachers, and concrete step repair.

$2,627,280 for the Watson Elementary Classroom Walls and Doors, 3-classroom addition to replace
trailers used as classrooms.

$3.2 million for the North Marion High School new security access road to the stadium and new bleachers (3,500 seats).

The West Virginia Board of Education will consider a request to amend the Marion County Schools 2020–2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) to include the consolidation of Pleasant Valley Elementary and East Park Elementary into a new elementary school on January 10.

The board will also ask for conditional approval of $20 million for the new elementary school from the School Building Authority contingent on passage of the bond issue by voters in May.

Board of Education President Donna Costello praised the efforts of fellow member George Boyles to assemble the list of projects and said this was an opportunity to demonstrate to the voters of Marion County that the district can manage the improvements and improve the experience for students.

“We have tried to equally address those needs in the county, and I think it is our opportunity to prove to the voters that we can do these projects and that we can do them correctly,” Costello said.

Heston told board members that the projects that did not make the cut could be added to Phase II in the future. Like other challenges in the district, Heston said they plan to approach it one step at a time and show voters they are capable of executing a second block of projects.

“We’re not abandoning any of the projects the bond committees brought to the group, but taking a bite at a time at those,” Heston said.

Collectively, the board acknowledged the amount of work that has to be completed by May 14. Costello said some of the opposition the board could face will require them to help the public understand the need for improvements and upgrades to district facilities.

“If you’ve got your ear to the ground, you know it,” Costello said. “There is a huge divide in this county, whether it’s east to west, west to east, or up north, and at some point in time we have to get over that divide.”