The Nicholas County (W.Va.) school board has approved receipt of a $159.8 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade and reconfigure school facilities that were severely damaged in a 2016 flood.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the newly constructed schools will replace some buildings that were closed — and some that weren’t — after the June 2016 flood.
The district's plans call for building a new Cherry River Elementary in Richwood. The campus is to be expanded to 108,950 square feet and include Richwood Middle and Richwood High.
According to the school system’s figures, that’s roughly three times the size of the existing Cherry River, but about 73,360 square feet less than the combined square footage of the three schools. Nicholas County demolished Richwood’s middle and high schools after they were damaged in the flood, and the schools are operating in temporary locations.
Another school is planned to replace Summersville Middle, which also was razed after the flood. The plan is for that campus to incorporate Nicholas County High and the vocational school, which now is in Craigsville. The proposed square footage for that school is 344,683, which is 93,093 square feet larger than the combined size of the three schools.
Nicholas County Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick says the FEMA program’s primary benefit is that it allows the county to combine schools, something it wouldn’t have been permitted under “traditional” FEMA procedures.
Asked about the reduced size of the proposed Richwood school compared with the combined square footage of the old schools, Burge-Tetrick said, “We’re suffering the same thing the state is suffering, which is lost population.” Of the Richwood area schools, she said “when those schools were built, they were designed for a lot more students.”