George: Harman School deemed unsafe

ELKINS – Superintendent of Schools Terry George is asking the Randolph County Board of Education to develop a plan to relocate Harman School students until repairs can be made to the school’s collapsed ceiling.

An entire plaster ceiling fell in one of the school’s classrooms during the July 4 weekend, bringing down two tons of material. No one was present at the time in the school, which was built in the 1950s.

George has placed a recommendation – to relocate students to alternative educational faclilities until necessary repairs can be made – on the agenda of a special BOE meeting slated for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Elkins High School theater.

The recommendation also urges the board to allow George to seek funding from any available source to defer the cost of repairs, which MSES Consultants has estimated at $175,000.

George said as of Thursday the school has been deemed unsafe for student occupancy.

He said he has been busy contacting elected officials and seeking funding for repairs. George said he put in a call to the Board of Risk Management Insurance, but has no estimates on how much, if any, of the emergency repairs can be covered through insurance.

On Wednesday, BOE members traveled to Harman to get a firsthand view of the damage at the school. They were provided with a written report of damages and repair estimates during Tuesday’s BOE meeting.

Harman School currently serves approximately 170 students from pre-k through 12th grade.

There are approximately 28 staff members at the school.

A report compiled by MSES Consultants says the repairs need to be done immediately, prior to school beginning in August. The report states the old ceilings need to come down for student safety, and then ceilings must be replaced and lights and fans reinstalled.

MSES recommends that the old plaster ceilings be demolished and new suspended ceilings be installed in their place. The critical areas identified in the report include the kitchen, cafeteria, restrooms and principal’s office suite.

Officials believe repairs to the building should include the demolition of plaster ceilings in all areas of the original structure with the exception of the gymnasium stage area and corridors without plaster ceilings; inspection of existing conditions above the plaster ceilings; the determination of needed structural repairs, replacing light fixtures and replacing electrical wiring; and the replacement and upgrade of the fire alarms system.

The special session agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is posted at the Board of Education office and online at