CHARLES TOWN – Jefferson County school officials are launching a public information campaign before deciding when voters will be asked to OK a $56 million bond for new schools and renovations.
Hans Fogle, Jefferson County Schools’ public information officer, said he is preparing an online “thought exchange forum” where the public can learn more about and give feedback on the school system’s recently updated $132 million, 10-year Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.
Fogle said there are many aspects of the bond call and the related school facilities improvement process that are complicated.
“We’re going to try and communicate with the public so that they can really partner with us on this effort,” he said. “Anytime you have a bond, it’s a partnership with the community.
“We’re asking them to support our schools and the Board of Education believes that it is part of their responsibility to be communicative with them and let them be participatory in that process.”
On Monday, school board President Kathy Skinner put off a public discussion over when to put the bond call before voters.
Fogle said schools officials want more public input before deciding whether to schedule a special election or to place the vote on the May 12, 2020, primary election ballot.
Fogle said school officials also will provide information about the CEFP at a booth at the Jefferson County Fair, which starts Sunday and continues through Aug. 24.
On July 9, the school board planned to approve a special bond call election for Oct. 26. But that vote got delayed, with school board members saying they’d heard feedback about the school system’s try at using eminent domain to seize the Rockwool factory site.
Board members Arthena Roper, Gary Kable and Mark Osbourn have said school officials need to regain public trust and support before asking them to approve the proposed bond.
The school system’s legal costs to pursue the condemnation are known to add up to at least $110,000, although school officials have declined to release a grand total.
In June, the Jefferson County Commission voted 4-1 against allowing the school board to use the county clerk’s help and resources for a special election.
A special bond election would cost the school system as much as $90,000.
After losing in federal court in May and announcing plans for an appeal, the school board now has abandoned the property seizure and settled with Rockwool.