BOE to tour Harman School damage

ELKINS – About 40 concerned parents, teachers and residents attended the Randolph County Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday seeking information about Harman School – only to leave with more questions than answers.

Rumors have flooded Harman and the surrounding communities about the future of Harman School following a ceiling collapse at the school over the July 4th weekend.

“At this point Harman School has been deemed unsafe for student occupancy,” Superintendent of Randolph County Schools Terry George said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The BOE enlisted the services of MSES Consultants Inc., an engineering firm in Clarksburg, to complete an assessment of the damage at the school and the necessary steps to make the school safe.

“I received a written plan of repairs from the engineers today at approximately 3 p.m.,” George said. “I supplied copies of the report to the board members tonight before the meeting.

“They need to have time to read and review the report before we have any discussion or make any decisions.”

George said the report was “quite an inclusive document,” and asked board members to hold a special meeting to discuss the recommended plan of action for Harman School.

The BOE slated the meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Elkins High School, which offers more room for people to attend then the county board office.

Board member Donna Auvil asked to be allowed to travel to Harman School to assess the damage. After discussion, all four board members present -president Lisa Wamsley was out of town – decided to travel to the school on Wednesday morning.

Auvil said she knew the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office has inspected Harman School since the collapse. She asked if there was a report of their findings.

“Those findings were sent to MSES and their comments are included in the report,” George said. “Our recommended proposal for Harman School will be listed on the agenda for Tuesday’s special board meeting.”

That agenda will be posted at the Board of Education office and online at by 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Harman School was built in 1950 and currently serves approximately 170 students from pre-k through 12th grade. There are approximately 28 staff members at the school. The state has listed Harman School as a “transition school,” meaning student test scores need improvement.

Before the end of Tuesday’s meeting, audience members began to ask questions about Harman School’s future and what the board’s intentions were. Because the Harman situation was not on the agenda, and all agenda business had been conducted, Taylor closed the meeting.

Audience members got up from their seats after the meeting closed and rushed up onto the dias where the board members were seated. They asked questions about how severely the school was damaged and when the school would reopen, but board members would only say no decisions had been made. The BOE members encouraged those present to contact their elected officials to seek funding for the school.