Levy funds transfered for Harman repairs

ELKINS – Plans to make emergency repairs at Harman School moved a step forward Thursday when the Randolph County Board of Education unanimously voted to transfer $60,000 from another fund toward fixing the damages at the school.

The vote – taken in a special session Thurday afternoon – allowed Superintendent of Randolph County Schools Terry George to collaborate with Brad Smith, chief financial officer, on a budget revision.

The $60,000 will be taken from the levy maintenance account – which contains levy funding earmarked for maintenance costs – to be used on the Harman School repair project.

Also on Thursday, the Randolph County Commission voted to allocate $25,000 to be used for the work at Harman School.

“We now have $141,000 for certain to use for the emergency repairs,” George said. “We have $56,000 from Harman residents, $25,000 from Randolph County Commission and the $60,000 from the levy maintenance account.”

George said the next step is to put the project out to bid.

“Once we have a successful bid, we will award the contract,” he said. “That process usually takes about three weeks. Repairs will begin with the Harman School entrance, then move to the main office and to the hallway leading to the cafeteria. Next, we will move to the restrooms and the cafeteria and kitchen.”

George said he anticipates the first group of Harman students to return to the school will be the Pre-k through 5 class.

Harman School was deemed unsafe after a plaster ceiling fell in one of the school’s classrooms during the July 4 weekend, bringing down 2 tons of material. No one was present at the time in the school, which was built in the 1950s.

MSES Consultants estimated emergency repairs to make the school safe for students will cost approximately $175,000.

The Randolph County Board of Education voted last week to allow George to develop a plan to temporarily relocate Harman School students to other Elkins-area schools while emergency repairs are being made.

The recommendation also authorized George to seek funding from any available source to defer the cost of the emergency repairs and allows him to seek other repairs calculated to prevent further damage to the facility and make the building safe and habitable.

During that meeting, seven Harman community members and leaders addressed board members, pleading that Harman School not be closed permanently and asking for board members to find alternative placement closer to home for the approximately170 Harman students.

Anonymous donations totaling $55,000 were presented to the BOE during the meeting, along with a pledge of support by Randolph County Commission President Chris See.

George said he met with Harman School Principal Tammie Daniels and the principals of the Elkins schools Monday to set up a plan for temporarily placing the Harman students. He said Daniels then met with parents at Harman School Monday evening to share the plan.

George said grades six through 12 will be housed intact – as Harman School – at Elkins High School and the Randolph Technical Center, and will be taught by their own Harman School instructors. Pre-k through second-grade students will be housed at Jennings Randolph Elementary School – intact as Harman School, with their own Harman School instructors. Students in grades 3 through 5 will be housed intact – as Harman School – at Midland Elementary School.