CommunityConcerns™: A Fresh Start Opportunity in Gilmer County
Mrs. Joe Manchin and Mr. David Sneed,
You Have A Fresh Start Opportunity in Gilmer County.
The West Virginia School Building Authority’s change of direction is welcomed. Each of the SBA’s redirection approaches is an open admission that past administrative mismanagement practices occurred. The question is what will the WVBOE and the SBA do to reverse their bad decisions for Gilmer County while time remains?
Nothing can be done about past mistakes for school facilities already built and paid for throughout West Virginia, but in Gilmer County there is an opportunity to show leadership by halting the Hays City school project.
Mrs. Manchin and Mr. Sneed, how about halting that project immediately? Through exercise of your authority there could be a fresh start to do the right thing.
Would it be easy? Definitely not! It would require the formation of a new Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan committee in Gilmer County with membership representing the true cross-section of the community.
The SBA would have to provide an array of qualified experts to advise and lead the committee. It would be necessary to comply with West Virginia’s Open Meeting laws, and accurate records would have to be kept to maintain transparency. Involvement of the SBA with a fresh start would be a unique opportunity for it to use Gilmer County to develop a model approach for application throughout WV when school facilities decisions are made.
There would be a host of variables to consider for a fresh start including population projections for Gilmer County to include estimates of K-12 students to accommodate in the future. The economics of energy use options would have to be studied, and there would have to be a site selection process to guarantee that alternate sites were considered including those available through use of eminent domain if necessary.
Sordid details of what happened to get Gilmer County to where it is today with the Hays City project could be profited from as lessons learned to design a facilities study for the SBA to head. One factor that should not be considered is money lost by the WVBOE and the SBA for their prior decisions in Gilmer County. Those costs should be written off by the State and the County should not be penalized for them.
One essential facet to study would be minimizing adverse impacts of facilities decisions on rural communities in the County. Prior to making final decisions for facilities it would be necessary to determine approaches for dealing with adverse social and economic impacts from bussing small children and older students to and from school locations.
One topic kept under wraps from the County is how much discretionary money will be made available from shutting down the Troy Elementary School? Would this new pool of money make it possible to have options including repairing existing faculties instead of vacating them and consolidating?
If an objective facilities study were to be done with valid justifications to indicate that the Hays City site is the best choice to include protecting the health and safety of children, citizens would accept the decision.
Presently, citizens do not have confidence in the State’s decision that the Hays City site is the best overall option for the County’s children, and they resent how the decision was made. The prevailing opinion is that Hays City was chosen to enable the SBA and the WVBOE to recover from mismanagement decisions for the failed Cedar Creek Elementary School project.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has the power to attend to this Gilmer County crisis with one telephone call. He presides over the SBA, he appointed Mr. David Sneed to administer the agency, and he appoints the WVBOE’s members.
Community • Gilmer County • Glenville • Normantown • Sand Fork • Troy • Education • Financial & Economy | G-Fin™ | Grants • Politics | Government | Election • State-WV • (22) Comments •
~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~
There is still time to do the right thing for Gilmer County. One school on the Hays City site is not the answer.It never was.
The key element for getting the needed change for our children is for Gilmer County’s citizens to rise up to let Charleston hear their loud cries for justice.
Sitting back and expecting a limited few in the County to fight battles with Charleston won’t work.
The WVBOE assumes that most people in the County don’t have enough interest in what happens and that empowers the group to pursue its selfish agenda.
The result is that citizen inaction permits a minority in the County to control the majority which won’t stand up to make its voice heard.
Who suffers? Our children, of course. Who benefits? Those on the receiving end of the money as usual.
Cronyism and raw politics stiffle the County.
This is something the WVBOE does not want Gilmer County to know.
There is an article in today’s Gazette about Kanawha County’s board of education raising their superintendents pay to nearly $160,000 a year.
Kanawha County has 28,0000 students and many schools so Mr. Ron Duerring, its superintendent, has a demanding job.
Compare this to Gilmer County. It has 900 students.
Mr. Gabriel Devono with his base pay, benefits, travel expenses, perks, and the future boost with his annual State retirement pay may be getting close to Kanawha County’s superintendent who was selected by a local school board.
Not bad, Mr. Devono, for getting a scandalously high paying job for the number of students in the County with no experience as a superintendent and getting payed for on-the-job training to boot.
Now wonder that when the WVBOE appoints its superintendents when intervention occurs, they want to hang around long as they can to lap up the gravy.
Just looked up how many Kanawha County schools Mr. Duerring administers. The best I can tell there are 8 high schools, 13 middle schools, 44 elementary schools, and 4 career and technical schools. How does that make Mr. Devono’s job in Gilmer County look?
All of years experience gave Mr. Sneed the insight to say smaller schools were the national trend when he came up as Director of the SBA. Nothing in that experience has enabled him to stand up to the Manchin BOE.
The Cedar Creek land check has been cashed and the Hays City deal promised. The state board doesn’t have the decency to admit the takeover of Gilmer was political nor the courage to make any change toward meeting the needs of the students.
They would rather rot in H*LL than to say they were wrong about anything.
AT 1:30 pm today the bidding stopped for the Hays City school. Gabe Devono should be opening them up and dancing a jig anytime now! Believe the man thinks all that money he is spending is his. Who it really belonged to never crosses his mind?
GC had little if any input into the Linn school.
We did spend 100’s of thousands of our tax dollars to build in it in Lewis county.
Our payback is the sewage plant on GC lands.
We get it. We got it.
Speaking to the amount paid by the state board to APPOINTED superintendents it is my understanding that ALL intervened county supers receive the SAME pay.When I asked a former super in an intervened county what rationale was used, his answer—to help defray moving expenses and cost of living!
Well, well, guess what, the past two appointed supers in my county were both born and have lived in this county as long as life has enabled them to do so. No, not exactly. The first one has retired to someplace called Hilton Head. And speaking of Kanawha, a few years ago, some smaller but intervened county supers were paid more than Kanawha`s superintendent.
Heard about your costly new computer deal. In our county the super would have come to the board to present a solid case of why new computers should be purchased as a top priority in the county.
He would have laid out exactly what would be done to accurately measure if the computers would achieved the intended purpose of student achievement.
Finally, he would have designated who would be held accountable for performing before and after comparisons of student achievement trackable to benefits from the new computers.
If business is not done that way we found that emotions of the minute often result in costly decisions followed by buyers remorse with claims from citizens that their money was wasted.
Numerous times there have been comments about the question of whether or not we are any better off after intervention and we know that our board members have asked that question too.
Finances and personnel are mentioned most. If Gabriel Devono had good news he would be broadcasting it to the world. Most people believe that we are far worse off than before intervention.
Why does the State systematically withhold information if it does not have anything to hide and it wants to have smooth relations with the school board and regular citizens of Gilmer County?
Consider personnel for an example. All personnel decisions were removed from the board.
Why would it not be good management for Mr. Devono to at least brief the board about the status of personnel? People hear that at least one half of the original school system employees are gone with intervention.
Didn’t Mr. Blankenship have informational agenda items so he could brief the board on important issues out of common courtesy?
It appears that Mr. Devono does not want regular people in the County to know what is going on.
The other explanation is that it appears that he wants to demean board members by rubbing it into their faces that he lords power over them.
Chit, a sewage plant for Gilmer County? What your reported is one more reason for need of a forensic accountant to document how much of Gilmer County’s money was spent, what was purchased, and who got the money for the entire intervention period.
Information for the Linn school and most everything else has been kept secret by the State. The County’s money for a no-bid architect was spent at Linn?
Mr. Devono, which county pays for annual operations of the sewage plant, how much did the land cost, whose land was it, which county paid to build the plant, and what was the construction cost of the plant?
Why build a sewage plant?
Web search will show you the Linn School sits atop an area honeycombed with coal mine tunnels.
Could have just run the poop into tunnels for reinforcement to prevent the school settling into the mines.
Has anyone discussed lack of building oversight?
Dr. Martirano and Mr. Charles Heinlein, who makes the decision for an item to get on Gilmer County’s monthly board meeting agenda?
It is unclear to citizens. When we ask a board member we are told that they are not sure either because they are informed that everything must have Charleston’s approval.
Does Mr. Devono screen out what he sends to Charleston after he gets agenda recommendations from board members and others or does he and the board’s president do it together to send their results to Charleston?
Citizens suspect that too much is blamed on Charleston when all agenda decisions are actually made locally with claims that “Charleston did it” as cop outs.
Those of us who have worked and lived in the area for years know of toxic and hazardous refuse dumped at the Hays City site.
Plenty of asbestos, oil transformers, PCB waste, mercury contamination, oils, fuels, etc.
It is truly a contaminated, Brownfield Site.
Was a permit ever issued for it?
The Linn school sits the furthest out. Their kiddies will get the longest ride. Lewis citizens pay the bill for a total electric school.
But when the electric goes off in January for a few days, and the place freezes solid, who pays for repairs? Lewis County!
Without plumbing, extended repair times, how will the kiddies make those days up?
Lewis County and Gilmer County - both have been had.
What could be more symbolic than our getting a sewage plant to express what happened to Gilmer County with intervention.
Lewis got the school, our money, our kids, and we got a sewage plant. What is worse the State refuses to give the County an accurate accounting for how our money was spent at Linn and elsewhere.
To go on we have the Cedar Creek boondoggle to cost us more money than the State will disclose, and we ended up with the State’s “save itself” decision to build the Hays City school in a commercial zone with flooding potential and on top of an old dump.
What a perfect example of State-sponsored taxation without representation? The results should fit perfectly with the CUBIE’s game plan.
There are always 2-3 of them at monthly school board meetings. How about asking all them to stand up for a bow? One of them could sign up as a delegation to give the group’s progress report.
Did Gilmer County pay for any pre-site studies at Linn, did it pay anything for the original land purchase and the purchase of more land after the slip occurred as a result of the poor pre site study, did it pay anything for fixing the slip, and how much of the overall total goes to pay the no bid architect? Exactly how much did the school cost the County?
What about any money costing change orders the public does not know about? The other question is how much more money must the County pay including future annual costs?
These are questions that officials in a democracy would answer without any hesitation. Something smells when financial information is kept secret from the very public the State is supposed to serve.
One more question. Who in the County’s central school board office is assigned to oversee new construction and other facilities work, and what are the individual’s professional qualifications for performing that work?
The Leading Creek school at Linn is another one for Governor Tomblin, the WVBOE, and Mr. Sneed’s WVSBA to get full credit for the expensive energy cost blunder.
An all electric school compared to one using natural gas will cost hundreds of thousands if not millions more to operate over the school’s lifespan.
The sad part of it for WV is that when expensive blunders like this happen with Charleston bureaucrats in control nothing is ever done about it, and ones to pay are always the local level taxpayers.
Charleston usually gets the brunt of the blame for the secrecy, waste, and mismanagement in intervened counties.
What would be the appropriate blame level to give to the WVBOE’s superintendents in those counties?
Must the State’s superintendents follow orders from the WVBOE in lock step so they can legitimately claim that they were simply carrying out orders or do they deserve blame too for harm done in counties during intervention?
If they don’t agree with the State’s orders they could resign so it is their personal choice to remain with their high pay jobs.
Where is Mr. Gabriel Devono’s emergency plan for the Leading Creek school when the electricity goes off?
Will the students be off until it is restored and how will they be handled if it goes off during the day?
Where does the blame lie for not using natural gas in the first place in a State awash with that fuel?
Another costly foul-up under State intervention. The mismanagement never ceases.
$150,000-$160,000 a year purchases lots of lock stepping in the name of doing it for the children.