Mon County School Board approves Excel Center construction

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Monongalia County Board of Education, approved renovations to add the EXCEL Center at Mylan Park, as part of its regular meeting Tuesday night. The project is expected to cost approximately $3.6 million and will add classrooms and renovate facilities around the alternative learning center that is occupied by students of all age groups.

“The addition of the EXCEL Center, that would be about 12,000 square feet,” explained Williamson and Striver Architect Greg Martin who is working on the project. “That would have a little bit of renovation over here at the high school, we would have very little renovation to the middle school and we would be infilling between the two areas,” he said.

The redesign of the EXCEL Center, creates one common entrance into the facility and includes additions that are considered beneficial both for staff and for students. Among them, the addition of a staff common area, additional classrooms meant for younger students, and an expanded gym for students of all ages to go along with a renovated STEM room for any technical students,

“We would be adding a general office area here with a calming room up towards the front, we would have a pre-K classroom and a couple of smaller, elementary-sized classrooms,” explained Martin on what would be added. “We would infill with a larger PE (Physical Education) space and then we would have a STEM space,” he said.”

The additions to the EXCEL Center have gone through multiple design proposals, one of which included the enclosure of all three buildings and the addition of multiple classrooms. That proposal was rejected due to Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) concerns over the potential overload of sewage at Mylan Park. According to Monongalia County Superintendent Eddie Campbell, the new proposal was approved by MUB due to its ability to avoid any sewage overload as a result of the renovations.

“The current space that will have the elementary addition, already has running water and plumbing, so this was just going to be a trade-off,” said Campbell, who initiated discussions with MUB to move the design forward.

Construction on the EXCEL Center is expected to begin within the next six to twelve months.

Monongalia County Tax Assessor Mark Musick also gave an update on the potential passing of Amendment 2, which would allow for state legislature to make changes to property taxes. Legislative leaders have supported eliminating the personal property tax on vehicles and tax on business machinery and inventory if voters approve the amendment in November. Musick presented a picture for Monongalia County after a report was released by the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy that says the total cost of the plan could be $515 million in lost revenue if the tax is removed.

“We’re looking at over $568-$570 million per year, right now to backfill,” explained Musick. “So, just in a budget standpoint in West Virginia, you got to at least come up with that,” he said.

To remedy that situation, Musick stated that there is still no plan on the state level, to backfill the approximately $500 million that would be needed to even out the revenue lost if Amendment 2 passes and is implemented. The future becomes more unclear if it moves forward and any drastic changes take place on the state legislative level, where two-year term leaders could easily change where funding can be directed. With these concerns, Musick has joined the list of many local officials, who are urging strong consideration of what could take place if this revenue stream is removed.

“Every two years, we have a hundred positions that come up that could be changed,” said Musick. “They’re going to have new legislation coming in, new thoughts and how is this getting established,” he said.

Board president Ron Lytle told the members they must remain impartially publicly on the matter.