Barring any unforeseen contingencies, there will be no major changes made to any of Mingo County’s school facilities during the next decade.
This was the conclusion of a report presented to the Mingo County Board of Education by Technology Coordinator Patrick Billips during last week’s regular meeting regarding the county’s 2020-2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.
Billips said, based on the county’s projected enrollment over the next 10 years, it is not expected that either additions or closures at any of the 10 facilities — including the Mingo County Extended Learning Center — will be necessary.
He said representatives of an architect firm, who along with himself and Maintenance Director William Hensley, visited each school and outlined each building’s projected needs.
“So with that being the case, the 2020-2030 CEFP will be a maintenance plan for the next 10 years,” he said. “They required that we put in the money for the repairs as if we were going to completely put in everything new from scratch.”
Since the CEFP for the next decade in all likelihood will be centered on maintenance of the facilities instead of closures and/or new construction, Billips said it was necessary to prioritize the work projects in order of importance.
At the top of the list, Billips said, is roof maintenance, followed by HVAC systems, communications, ceilings, plumbing (bathrooms, etc.), and exterior doors.
“The reason we put roofs in as number one is because of mold and mildew, and you quickly destroy your building if you have leaks in your roofs,” he said. “The HVAC systems were second because of better energy management plus a better learning environment for the children … plus, if you don't eventually replace it with new you’ll end up having your equipment broken all the time.”
Billips noted the importance of having up-to-date bathrooms and an overall nice facility in which to work because it improves teacher retention.
“Studies have shown you can actually pay teachers less if your building is clean and you have a nice working environment,” he said.
Billips said the overall funding costs for these six targeted maintenance areas come with a price tag of $21 million.
“It’s nice to put all these things in here if we have a lot of money but we may not have that kind of money so we’ll have to prioritize the needs on the list,” he said. “We will be spending some out of our budgeted money in the county, and we’ll be asking for SBA grants and things like that throughout the years.”
Billips said enrollment studies were done and that they indicated the county is likely to lose some students, but not in numbers great enough that the losses would justify consolidation.
“As long as we don’t lose too many, or, even if we gain 10 percent, we have enough capacity to not have to add on at this time,” he said.
Although the plan covers a 10-year period, Billips pointed out it can be and typically is updated each year as priorities change.
With a vote of 5-0, the board approved the plan.