Is The Green School Site Legal?

STATE POLICY SHOWS GREEN SCHOOL SITE TO BE ILLEGAL

WEST VIRGINIA CODE OF STATE RULES, TITLE 126 LEGISLATIVE RULE, BOARD OF EDUCATION, SERIES 172

HANDBOOK ON PLANNING SCHOOL FACILITIES (EDUCATION POLICY 6200)

202.06. For the safety of students, the site shall be located away from hazards and undesirable environments, such as:

a. Railroads, arterial highways, heavily traveled streets,traffic and congestion

b. Noise, toxic gas escapes from railroads, airports, and odoriferous plants or industries

c. Natural barriers limiting accessibility and expandability, such as rivers, lakes, swamps, and protruding ridges

d. High voltage transmission lines, booster or reduction stations, high pressure gas lines, and transformer stations

e. Taverns, fire stations, bulk storage plants for flammable liquid, and property zoned as industrial

f. Situations where a combination of factors such as those presented above could contribute to the possibility of human entrapment

The Eastwood Mileground “green” school site is located a the intersection of two “heavily traveled…arterial highways” full of “traffic and congestion,” which are occasionally entrapped by the frequent crashes at and near the location. (Update: For full details, see: “Think It’s Dangerous And Wrongful Now?“)

On October 25, 2010, the West Virginia state Superintendent of Schools, Steven Paine, issued a “Superintendent Interpretation,” regarding Policy 6200. This interpretation was unconnected to the Eastwood Mileground site and was requested by state Senator Evan H. Jenkins. In the Interpretation, state Superintendent Paine ruled that Policy 6200 contains mandates that must be adhered to especially where there is a “safety consideration.”

The Legislature in West Virginia Code §18-5-13 (i.e., state Law) mandates that each “county board” of education is “subject to…the rules of the State Board,” including Rule 6200.

Also breached is Legislative Rule §126-42-7.6, “Assuring the Quality of Education…County Board of Education Responsibilities…Facilities”:

“County Board of Education Responsibilities. 7.6. Facilities. 7.6.1. County boards shall ensure that facilities meet the standards set forth in W. Va. 126CSR172, WVBE Policy 6200, Handbook on Planning School Facilities.”

West Virginia Supreme Court precedent holds that:

“Of course, an agency must follow and apply its rules and regulations in existence at the time of agency action” (Appalachian Power v. State Tax Department of West Virginia; 1995).

Not only is the Eastwood site banned by state mandate and other Law, it is common sense to keep children away from the dangers of high traffic, crashes, congestion, noise, the danger of entrapment and so on. Science too shows the danger of siting schools by heavy traffic roads:

“Young children are particularly susceptible to air pollution given their narrow airways, higher breathing rates, and developing lungs and immune systems….  Evidence of the high concentration of harmful air pollutants near roadways prompted the California legislature to prohibit public schools within 150 m (500ft) of busy corridors to protect children’s health.“[1]

The intended green school building is proposed to be sited within 150 meters of WV 705 and US 119.

 

“Further pollution and exposure monitoring at child care facilities could reveal whether this legislation should be expanded to prohibit the siting of child care facilities within 200 m of major roadways, which more closely corresponds to the distance from major roadways at which vehicle-related air pollutants drop to “background” concentration levels. The California Air Resources Board recently responded to growing concern over near-roadway pollution by recommending that new “sensitive land uses” such as residences, schools, day care centers, playgrounds,and medical facilities not be sited within 150 m of heavily traveled roadways…. Child care and preschool facilities near major roadways should be required to notify parents and guardians of the potential health risks of concentrated vehicle-related pollutants or other nearby air pollutants before children are enrolled. This could alert parents of vulnerable children, such as those with chronic respiratory conditions, of potential risks. [1]Douglas Houston, et al, “Proximity of Licensed Child Care Facilities to Near-Roadway Vehicle Pollution”

Major commuter and commercial intersections are unhealthy and dangerous, no place for any school. The intended site for the green elementary school is the 6th most dangerous intersection in the Morgantown area, just up the road from the 5th most dangerous intersection where Superintendent Devono originally wanted to site the school. And the intended school site is on the same road (route 705) as 5 of the top 6 most dangerous intersections in all Morgantown and surrounds. No public school, let alone a large elementary, is situated at one of the most dangerous intersections in the area. No public school is even on the same road as 5 of the 6 most dangerous intersections. The green school must not be the first.

In the meantime, the green school state grant remains in abeyance due to Monongalia County Schools’ continued failure to secure “clear and free title” to the intersection site.

The statutes must be enforced. Contact your representatives and all officials involved to insist on it.

Note, too, that Skyview Elementary School (2006) was built a few years ago near an industrial park, soon to expand – the school had to be evacuated last year due to a fire at the industrial park – which conflicts with the part of the code that states: “the [school] site shall be located away from hazards and undesirable environments, such as…property zoned as industrial.” Mylan Park Elementary School (2006) was built at the same time and is said to stink (comment in 2010 CEFP). It was built on a strip mine where many tons of coal ash were dumped. Coal ash is trash from power plants that poisons water. The EPA is considering classifying it as a hazardous waste. State code: “the [school] site shall be located away from hazards and undesirable environments, such as…odoriferous plants or industries.” The new University High School (2009) built even more recently was also sited over an old mine, and is currently being investigated by the state forhaving on or near the school campus and cross country course the hazards of open mine portals, a “sludge pond,” tipples, and a slag pile. This recent pattern of negligence in siting schools by Monongalia County Schools must stop.

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