Plan in place for Harman students

HARMAN – Although Harman students will be bused to Elkins schools until emergency repairs are completed to Harman School, they will be taught by their Harman teachers separate from other students, officials said Tuesday.

Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George said he met with Harman School Principal Tammie Daniels and the principals of the Elkins schools Monday to set up a plan. He said Daniels then met with parents at Harman School Monday evening to share the plan.

“Grades six through 12 will be housed intact – as Harman School – at Elkins High School and the Randolph Technical Center, along with their own Harman School instructors,” George said Tuesday.

“Pre-k through second-grade students will be housed at Jennings Randolph Elementary School – intact as Harman School, with their own Harman School instructors,” he said. “Students in grades 3 through 5 will be housed intact – as Harman School – at Midland Elementary School.”

George said he wanted to make sure everyone understood the new locations for the students and instructors are just temporary housing until emergency repairs are made to Harman School.

“When Harman School is deemed safe again, students will return back to the Harman School building,” George said. “Our hope is, when all of the pledged funding is received, we will begin the repairs.

“It is, and has always been, our goal to return the Harman students and instructors back to Harman School.”

Harman School was deemed unsafe after an entire 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.

George said his office has been in contact with the state Board of Risk Insurance.

“We are checking to see how much, if any, compensation we will receive for the ceiling collapse in the one classroom at Harman School,” George said. “We cannot collect compensation for the other repairs that need completed on the school, just the one where the damages occurred.”

MSES Consultants estimated emergency repairs to make the school safe for students will be 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 the 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 Tuesday’s meeting, along with a pledge of support by the Randolph County Commission President Chris See.

Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, said this week she believes at least $65,000 in funding for the needed repairs at Harman School would be announced by the West Virginia Legislature and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office, although no announcement had been made by Tuesday evening.