Mingo County Schools’ 2020-2030 educational goals and objectives for the county’s Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan (CEFP) were presented and approved by the board during a special MCBE meeting held last week.
Superintendent Don Spence, who along with Technology Coordinator Patrick Billips generalized the components of the plan, began by explaining that the CEFP is a requirement to “establish a planned and systematic approach to provide educational facilities which will support the school system and the delivery of the best possible education to students with the best available resources.”
Part of the CEFP, he said, calls for keeping the same grades configuration during the next 10 years as is in place now, which is a PK through 8 and 9 through 12 grade configuration.
Another objective is for the county to maintain the number of existing schools, provided there are no major enrollment changes during the 10-year period.
“We have consolidated and reduced the number of schools during the past few years, down to where we are actually considered by the state to be at an efficient level,” he said. “The state says there should be an average of 420 students per building and we’re now a little better than that at an average of 435.”
Spence said he doesn’t foresee any additional consolidations during the next decade unless the school system sees a significant decline in enrollment during the period.
“We have our facilities going in the right direction and we’ve put some extra money into the HVACs and so forth, so this point in time there’s not a great deal of change in where we’re at right now.”
Billips said, with enrollment figures being what they are at the present time, the school system also doesn’t anticipate any additional facilities construction.
“We also don’t foresee doing any additions to the classrooms in any of the schools at this time,” he said.
“If we get a big enrollment we may have to add on to a building, but you do a yearly update on enrollment so if there are drastic changes then you do an update on the plan.”
Spence pointed out that the CEFP is essentially a contingency plan based on data that the school system has available now and that all facets of it can be updated if necessary.
“This does not lock us into either doing something or not doing something, but we are required to have a plan in place,” he said. “But we’re on track with our facilities, and we’re pleased with that.”
Board member John Preece wanted to know what impact the King Coal Highway’s completion, for example, or of it at least going under construction, might have on the county’s enrollment numbers in the event this scenario should play out at some point during the next decade.
Billips said the school system has not received any updated information regarding plans for the completion of the highway project. But because the CEFP is a 10-year plan and must be brought up to date each year to include any unforeseen contingency, this necessity/requirement would sufficiently account for any decrease or increase in enrollment numbers that might occur later on.
“So if we have any changes, we get them approved and then present them to the state,” he said. “But as things stand now, we’re at an efficient rate…we’re actually a little better than the state wants us to be, so there’s no need to plan for adding classrooms for more students or consolidating for fewer students.”
As for the maintenance and/or improvements for the current buildings, Billips said all the schools are currently being evaluated to determine needs assessment (i.e., those which will need updated HVAC units, windows replacement, and/or other significant projects undertaken), which he added the school system will be required to plan and budget for over the next 10 years.