No Room at the Green Inn, Part Two

MON SCHOOLS AND THE WV SBA FAIL TO INFORM THE PUBLIC THAT THE GREEN SCHOOL WOULD BE OVERCROWDED FROM THE START

On Mon Schools’ green school grant application to the WV School Building Authority (SBA Director Mark Manchin, the appointed cousin of SBA President Joe Manchin), under the section titled, “ADEQUATE SPACE FOR PROJECTED STUDENT ENROLLMENT,” Mon Schools states:

“There is adequate space for enrollment projections. Once this facility [green school] is completed [Fall 2012], redistricting will occur in the North and Cheat Lake Elementary areas due to overcrowding.”

First, as we have noted, contrary to the assertion above, which it takes an investigative research project to discover, Mon Schools continues to deny in public, either brazenly or ignorantly, that redistricting is “on the table” and connected to the green school.

Second, there is not “adequate space” in the Easton/Woodburn consolidated green school for the projected combined enrollments of Easton Elementary and Woodburn Elementary if the school is to be built for 450 students, which the grant is written for and which Mon Schools insists it “will be built to house.” Even before this fall’s boom in elementary school enrollment in Morgantown, the combined projected enrollment of Easton and Woodburn for 2012, the year the consolidated green school is to open, is 103 percent of green school capacity, with enrollment projected to climb nearly every year thereafter, again even before the recent enrollment boom, which was in all likelihood brought on by the ongoing hard economic times, as people flock to the city and fewer families can afford private school.

Mon Schools even includes the following chart in its summer request to the state Board of Education for two amendments to its Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (one amendment to close Woodburn and Easton schools and the other amendment to build the new consolidated green school ostensibly for the Woodburn and Easton student bodies):

School

Design Capacity

Current Enrollment

Current Utilization

Easton

225

180

80%

Woodburn

325

227

69%

Newly Constructed Facility [green school]

Estimated 450

464
(as per projected
2012-2013)

103%

That’s right, Mon Schools lists the current Easton and Woodburn schools’ seating capacity as 550 (even though in the 2010 CEFP the combined seating capacity is listed as 482 (211 Easton, 271 Woodburn). Regardless of which figure one might believe, the new green school would slash seating capacity below both current capacity and projected enrollment.

Also included in Mon Schools request to the state board for the two amendments, subsequently approved, is this statement:

“The newly constructed facility is projected to be open beginning with the 2012-2013 school year with a Pre-K – grade 5 configuration housing approximately 464 students.”

An accompanying chart shows projected student enrollment growing through 2020, the last year of the chart, to 486 students (again, projected before this fall’s enrollment boom).

(Meanwhile, neighboring North Elementary (through grade 5) operated last year overcapacity as did its neighbor and feeder Suncrest Primary (through grade 3). Woodburn Elementary’s neighboring school Mountainview operated last year at 95 percent of capacity, and Woodburn’s other neighboring school Brookhaven operated near capacity and was slated for a large addition.)

So while the public has been maintaining that the school district intends to expand the green school and that it will not be a small school, and while there is every bit of evidence to conclude this, Mon Schools keeps maintaining that the new green school will “still be a small school” and that “Superintendent Devono [is] stating none [no expansion] is planned at this time.” The latter despite the school’s architect stating in email to Superintendent Devono weeks earlier that:

“the SBA school…to meet your needs it’s really about 65,000 square feet and as discussed last week we may approach a 70,000 square foot building with adequate space and expansion.”

The number of students recommended or required by state policy for a school that large is about 650 or 700 or more students. So here we see that large and ever larger school “needs” are clearly being planned for. [Update: By spring of 2013, after years of Mon Schools’ saying publicly that the green school would encompass about 50,000 square feet, the school was completed – as we basically predicted and as internal documents indicated – at over 71,000 square feet, while the number of students enrolled was greater than 450. Less than a year later, by the end of 2013, on campus enrollment had reached 520 students, with total school enrollment at 555 (two pre-school classes are housed at an off-site facility). By spring of 2014, the BOE announced a six classroom/150 student expansion of Eastwood to bring the total enrollment to 670 students, at the least. By late summer 2014, ground had been broken on the expansion. “It will still be a small school with 450 students,” the BOE had promised scant years before. No one believed them then, and we and they have subsequently and repeatedly shown how and why the BOE is directed by professional liars.]***

As we also reported earlier, in an email obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, we learn that in a 10/14/2009 email from WVU Director of Real Estate Services, Shannon Mundell, to WVU Vice President of Administration and Finance, Narvel Weese, that Mundell states in regard to the green school:

“Had a brief discussion with Mr. Devono regarding WVU’s property near and around the Mileground. He [Devono] is needing approximately 8-10 acres (10 preferred for bus turnaround).

That’s 1-3 acres more than is stipulated by the SBA for a school of 450 students.

“He was originally looking at the area across from Damon’s [1 mile down route 705, deep into North Elementary’s catchment and not far from North Elementary or Suncrest Primary], but as that is our sacred American Chestnut area, he is open to suggestions. Also, with school starting prior to 8:30, the Mileground area is another viable option (maybe behind Armory?).

“Confidentially, the overflow from North [elementary] and [the entire student body of] Woodburn elementary will be placed in this school. Mr. Devono is also planning for this school to be LEED certified [i.e., green].”

In public, to the public, as we have documented in detail, the Mon School Board and the Superintendent tell a different story.

To the public, Superintendent Devono states:

“I am not recommending any attendance area from North being included into the new [green] school.”

To the public, Mon school board President Barbara Parsons:

“…no redistricting and we have vigorously maintained that position … no discussion, whatsoever, regarding any changes to North Elementary attendance area and the new school. …we said there would be no redistricting and we have vigorously maintained that position. … Any future consideration of redistricting will be at the initiative of the public.“

To the WV School Building Authority:

“Once this facility [green school] is completed [Fall 2012], redistricting will occur in the North and Cheat Lake Elementary areas due to overcrowding.”

And apparently to WVU Director Mundell (in Mundell’s words):

“Confidentially, the overflow from North [elementary] and [the entire student body of] Woodburn elementary will be placed in this school.”

So there are two stories being told here by Mon Schools, a confidential story and a public story. And the confidential story, we have learned through FOIA requests and other investigations, systematically contradicts the public story. Whether purposefully or unwittingly constructed and conveyed, the nature of these contradictory patterns of information is unlawful. One learns one thing confidentially, and the opposite thing publicly, in violation of the public’s right to know, which is enshrined in WV Code and the WV Constitution. No public agency has the right to unwittingly or purposefully deceive the public. Public agencies have a legal mandate to do the opposite, to inform. One cannot inform by deception, whether unwitting or otherwise.

The right-to-know violations are as apparent as the hazardous site violations. The green school site at the 705/119 intersection is as wrongful as the green school siting process. And both would continue all-too-familiar patterns in Monongalia County School District.

Two new well-sited modest sized elementary schools are badly needed in Monongalia County, not a terribly sited large one.

________________

***Additional Update: Notice that in a number of these 2010 posts, we proved (more than predicted, we proved) that Superintendent Devono and architect Shriver were actively and in writing planning (contrary to Devono’s public statements of “no plans” to expand, let alone stated expectations) to build a school of about 70,000 square feet, and then the Monongalia County BOE built Eastwood that opened in spring 2012 at over 71,000 square feet. 

Prior to opening day, the BOE also never corrected the approximately 50,000 square foot figure for the school size that they released to the media, the figure that was repeatedly used and reported until – without explanation or comment – Eastwood opened 20,000 feet bigger. 

The first official full year second month enrollment of Eastwood (as recorded by the WV Department of Education) was 555 (520 on campus). Until the day it opened in spring 2012, the school capacity was stated by the Monongalia County BOE to be 450. Again, there was no explanation or comment from the BOE nor from the media on the fact that Eastwood opened over the ostensible capacity of 450 on the very first day it opened in spring 2012, let alone comment on the increased enrollment in the fall of Eastwood’s first full year.

Also notice we pointed out that WV School Building Authority guidelines call for placing between 650 and 700 students in a 70,000 square foot school. No surprise then that after 1 full year of operation, the Monongalia County BOE is adding to Eastwood Elementary a few thousand square feet to have a school totaling about 75,000 square feet with a student body capacity of about 670 students, or more. 

No one was surprised that the officials of the Monongalia County BOE were lying to them. And no one can be now. The proof has long since been public.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s