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St. C. schools asking for input

District deciding future of school buildings

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK ABOVE: St. Clairsville-Richland City School District Superintendent Walt Skaggs and Treasurer Amy Porter review an online survey. The school district is asking for community input on the future of school buildings.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The St. Clairsville-Richland City School District is asking for community involvement in addressing what Superintendent Walt Skaggs describes as aging facilities. The move comes after a $79.9-million levy for the construction of a new complex was overwhelmingly voted down in November, 2018.

Skaggs said the district has gone back to the drawing board, and is inviting the community to participate in finding a solution. He said the district is asking the community to be actively involved.

“We have no plans established right now. We are trying to totally engage the community and get input from them to see what they would support. We’ve sent out a survey, we’ve posted that on our website, on our Facebook account, there’s a banner across town that lets them know how they can log onto that survey. Once we get that survey done, we will be able to see what the community would support as we move forward.”

The public is invited to take an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/StCFuture1 to measure opinions about different aspects of the schools. Questions touch on the current state of the buildings and the ability to prepare students for the technological demands ahead, as well as what improvements may be needed in the future.

“I think we’ve established that there is a need for something. We need to know what the community feels that need is. Obviously when we went out the last time, we weren’t very successful. When the board and administrative team met, we felt like we really needed to reach out to our community and give them a voice in this project.”

Skaggs said the district is open to all suggestions, whether renovations or a whether a phased-in project. Currently, no public meetings have yet been scheduled, but the district is working with focus groups, community advisory teams and educational envisioning teams of business leaders and community members with a stake in the district’s future.

He said the buildings continue to face problems.

“We continue to repair things. Obviously maintenance costs continue to go up,” Skaggs said. “One of our buildings is almost 100 years old. Things break and we fix them as we go on. We make sure they’re safe and secure, but there’s definitely a need.”

The survey is both online and can be obtained at many area businesses. Skaggs said there have been more than 700 responses so far, with the majority recognizing a need.

“We’re doing the best that we can with the facilities that we have to meet the needs of our students and prepare them for the careers that are ever-changing,” he said. “We’re preparing kids for jobs that haven’t even been created yet. We’re doing the best we can with the facilities we have. We could do a lot better and a lot more with facilities that have the technology and flexibility for that type of curriculum.”

He said other issues include the heating system, which is outdated and needs constant repairs.

“We try to be pro-active, but age takes its toll,” Skaggs said.

District Treasurer Amy Porter said the roofs also require repairs.

“We’re constantly looking for grants,” she said.

Skaggs has not yet communicated with the incoming mayoral administration to see if a new project will have the city’s support.

Residents recalled the prior contentious levy proposal and commented on the state of the schools.

“We certainly need to improve the schools,” John Tomlan said. “We need to support the school system, it’s just a matter of what appropriate construction.”

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