State School Building Authority has no plans for funding

The golden West Virginia State Capital Dome towering above the trees on an clear, early Fall evening, just before sunset in Charleston, WV.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state School Building Authority continues to have no plans to fund new school construction projects in the state during its December meeting as construction costs remain high.

During a quarterly meeting of the state School Building Authority (SBA), board members said they’ll have a quarterly meeting at the end of the year but it won’t include the traditional Needs Grants funding awards.

Dana Womack, Director of Architectural Services for SBA told MetroNews that the SBA will continue to evaluate where the projects are coming in at costs wise but right now prices are high.

“At this time, I feel that we are not able to see where the funds are at. The December date is continuing to be postponed until further notice,” Womack said.

The initial decision to put the brakes on the upcoming Needs Grants funding meeting came in August during a special meeting.

SBA Chairman Brian Abraham then said the authority wanted to take a wait-and-see attitude after seeing the impact of inflation on building costs during the past several months.

“It’s the smart thing to do,” he said.

Abraham and Womack added on Monday that the meeting could be rescheduled at some point – potentially in the first quarter of 2023.

In August, the SBA decided to add funds to previously approved construction projects in Roane and Summers counties because of bids that came in millions of dollars over budget.

Womack said that eight counties are requesting supplemental funding for the ’21-’22 school year projects that were awarded.

In other meeting business, the SBA approved a Kanawha County Board of Education’s grant extension request for a contract at Ruthlawn Elementary School.

Kanawha County Board of Education requested a time extension through Sept. 30, 2023, for the grant contract at Ruthlawn. “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and unforeseen design factors, the process was delayed, which will cause the project completion to extend beyond the original grant deadline,” the agenda read.

Womack said there have been many extension requests due to COVID-19 in the past two years but that situation is starting to improve.

“We’ve been extending a lot of grant contracts because of COVID reasons. They are starting to die down a little now to where we are not seeing as many grant extension requests,” he said.