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Board of Ed purchases land near Shepherdstown

By Staff | Feb 9, 2018

The Jefferson County Board of Education announced last week that it has closed the deal on a land purchase near Shepherdstown. The 101-acre lot is located at the intersection of Gardner Lane and Flowing Springs Road.

According to a press release issued by the Board, the land will house an educational complex for the growing Shepherdstown community and the surrounding area. The schools to be built will replace what the Board refers to as landlocked and aging facilities.

“This purchase is a critical step in our strategic plan to meet the growing needs of the community,” said Board President Scott Sudduth in the release. “We have been looking diligently for two years for suitable land to address the needs of the Shepherdstown and surrounding community.”

The plans for the acreage include an elementary and middle school, although there’s not currently a definitive timeline for moving forward with the construction projects.

“We will build at some time in the future,” said Ralph Dinges, assistant superintendent.

There are many details to figure out before the school system is ready to begin the construction process. A series of public forums will be held this spring to showcase the innovative ideas in school program and building development. The forums will also allow for discussion on what elements parents and students want to see in the future school, not only in Shepherdstown but in Ranson as well, where the Board of Education purchased acreage last year for another school complex. The proposal for the Ranson property includes a multischool complex as well – the Board is currently discussing an elementary, middle and high school.

In addition to the school construction, the Jefferson County Board of Education and Jefferson County Parks and Recreation have begun initial discussions on the possibility of shared and joint-use facilities.

“We are excited about the joint-use possibilities of this property for the community,” said Kathy Skinner, board vice president.

Parks Director Jennifer Myers concurred, saying, “We are very excited to work with Jefferson County Schools and we look forward to developing a join partnership going forward for the benefit of the community.”

The land was purchased using funds from impact fees as well as table-game revenue designated for the school system, collected over the past eight years. Both of these funds can only be used for specific types of spending, including land acquisition.

“Upon my arrival to Jefferson County three years ago, the board asked me to engage with the community and local governments on school capacity, growth and community needs,” Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson said in the release. “This purchase is the next step following our transparent redistricting process in response to the community.

“Not only will the land purchase allow us to build needed replacements to Shepherdstown’s two existing schools, but it will provide enough land to meet future growth needs in the county,” Gibson said.