MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Members of the Monongalia County Board of Education (BOE) want to make sure voters and property owners understand the cost and impact of the proposed Renaissance Academy.

On May 14, voters will be asked to affirmatively answer a $142.6 million bond call to finance the project.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” BOE president Ron Lytle said the project will introduce project-based learning to Monongalia County students, possibly for students in surrounding counties. The concept is a mix of vocational and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects delivered in an interactive way.

“We’re trying to take a step forward and say Monongalia County is forward-thinking, and Monongalia County is going to be and has been a technology leader,” Lytle said.

Lytle used the example of an owner of a property valued at $100,000.

“The average over 30-years is about $45.84 per year for a property with an assessed value of $100,000,” Lytle said.

Recently, the members of the BOE, teachers, and principals traveled to Leesburg, Virginia, to tour the Academies of Loudoun, a similar STEM learning center. The Virginia school has the name “Academies” to reflect the distinct divisions under the same roof: the Academy of Engineering and Technology, the Academy of Science, and the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy.

“The things that this STEM school that we’re looking at and the career technology education school are focused on are hands-on education and critical project-based education,” Lytle said.

Lytle believes what’s happening in Virginia is not a one-off and that the concept is gaining momentum as the needs of businesses evolve. If the Renaissance Academy is not built to prepare for the future, it will have to be built in an effort to keep pace with other districts.

“We’re going to either step forward and do it now or we’re going to be behind the curve 20 or 30-years from now when everybody has moved to this and we’re trying to catch up,” Lytle said.

The importance of a quality education system in terms of economic development is also a potential benefit of the Renaissance Academy. Having the components of a state-of-the-art education system could be a draw to the area, leading to increased growth.

“There are a lot of things that could come to this area, and people are looking for an education system that we don’t have with the traditional system we currently use,” Lytle said.

The proposed location for the Renaissance Academy is a parcel of reclaimed land just past the University Town Center on Blue Horizon Drive.