Ruthlawn Elementary project secures SBA funding

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state School Building Authority approved roughly $7 million in funding for a dozen school construction and maintenance projects during a meeting Monday that originated in Charleston.

The SBA annually awards grants from its Major Improvement Projects (MIP) and Three Percent Grants categories.

“There were a lot of security and HVAC projects,” SBA Director of Architectural Services Ben Ashley said. “They are all dealing with the present issues. They’re not always the major new, big projects, big additions but a lot of time they address some critical needs in counties that really need some help.”

Projects in Calhoun, Kanawha, Lincoln, Preston, Randolph, Upshur and Webster counties received approval in the MIP program. The most expensive is a $1 million addition and renovation project at Ruthlawn Elementary near Charleston in Kanawha County.

“They propose to build a exploratorium STEM-style classroom space to eliminate the need for two portable classrooms. That’s an exciting project for Kanawha County,” Ashley said.

The Three Percent Grants cover five projects that will impact several counties each. General renovations and security upgrades at the South Branch Community & Technical Center was granted the highest award at $434,203.

Ashley said the ongoing pandemic did impact the number of projects considered for the two programs. He said usually the SBA considers approximately 30 projects for funding. He said this round there were only 20 projects submitted.

The SBA has moved its largest grant award, the Needs Grant program, from this fall to next March and April. Ashley said the extra time is to allow counties to complete their new 10-year Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plans (CEFP).

“They’ll planning for their facility needs for the next 10 years. We’re going to let them finish that plan and from those plans we’ll fund projects again in April,” Ashley said.