Officials presented information about the proposed Randolph County Schools bond call on the Nov. 6 ballot during a final special meeting Wednesday at Elkins High School.
Dr. James Phares, superintendent of schools, organized a total of six meetings at community schools throughout the county, hoping to provide citizens with essential information about the projects that will be funded if the bond passes.
Randolph County Schools bond call committee chairman Bob Dunkerly welcomed those attending Wednesday and told the audience why the bond call is needed.
"When facilities are used for year-round school, we will need to use the gymnasium of Elkins High School for classes," Dunkerly said. "Our schools serve as the center of our rural neighborhoods and are used to not only teach school, but for sports, activities, family reunions and other events."
Dunkerly said the safe schools regulations prohibit opening windows and doors, thus necessitating air conditioning.
"The bond call will help get our schools up to speed for the next 20, 30 or even 50 years," Dunkerly said. "Our communities have become more reliant on our schools and in the future, the missions of our public schools will include lifelong learning, and we need to be ready for the future."
Dunkerly said when the school system's levy passed two years ago, the money was used for maintenance, technology and the schools.
"This is a whole different pot of money," Dunkerly said. "We will leverage our $12 million and the state will kick in $9 million more.
"Randolph County people need to step up to the plate and share information with others in the community," he said. "Information is best shared in a one-on-one setting. Those who have the correct information need to share with those who need to know."
Phares said the gymnasium at Elkins High School has heating, but no air conditioning system.
"This gymnasium is used vigorously by the community," Phares said. "The Elkins Rotary used it for the Stamp Out Polio Concert, it is used for Hooked On Fishing, the Mountain State Forest Festival Pet Show and the Knights of Columbus Basketball Free Throw Competition."
During a question and answer portion of the meeting, Elkins High School Principal David Fincham asked Phares if community schools will stay open if the bond passes.
Phares assured him that they would stay open.
"It has been my commitment not to close nor consolidate schools that are safe and healthy for the students," Phares said. "If the bond does not pass, the school board has some tough decisions to make."
Phares said traditionally the outlying areas of the county do not have a good track record for successful passage of levy or bond initiatives.
"These monies will save their schools," Phares said. "If constituents in those communities do not want to keep those schools open, they can send that message to the board by the way they vote."
Fincham asked how quickly work would begin on the schools if the bond passes.
Phares said the renovations would begin quickly.
"On July 1 the projects will need to go to bid," Phares said. "The work will begin and will not be done by school. Some work will start immediately, other work will be completed in the summer, at nights and during weekends.
"We will never move the kids out of school to complete work again," Phares said.
Elkins Middle School Assistant Principal Angie Wilson said her children in Homestead Elementary missed some school this year due to high temperatures and humidity, and that time cannot be made up.
"The bond is not just a tax," Wilson said. "We need to think of it as an investment in our kids and the future."
Dunkerly agreed with Wilson.
"If you want to attract business and economic growth in this area, our schools need to be good schools," Dunkerly said. "One of the first thing people ask realtors when purchasing a house is about the quality of the schools their children will attend."
More information on the Randolph County Schools Bond Call is located at www.informationonthebondcall.com.