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USC will not get state help

By Staff | Apr 22, 2012

There will be no financial help from the state if United South Central School District voters decide to build a new school.

Superintendent Jerry Jensen told School Board members Tuesday night the Legislature has decided not to fund any school building projects.

Jensen received word of the decision last week through an e-mail from state Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.

USC officials were seeking a cooperative facilities grant for up to $20 million to help pay for a facility designed to house 750 students in grades K-12.

Jensen says local legislators worked hard to obtain funding but lawmakers were concerned about “the doors it would open to other requests.”

The Legislature still has a week before it adjourns on April 30, however, Jensen isn’t keeping any hopes that there will be a change of heart.

“I’d be shocked if anything came out,” he says.

The only question left for board members was to decide whether to hold a bond referendum this summer and for how much.

Unanimously, they voted to have a bond issue for $28.825 million on the ballot during the Aug. 14 primary election.

“This is the last chance I’ll get to vote for a new building. We have been on this train for seven years and we need to do something,” says board member Sharon Parriott. “We need to get out there and go get it.”

Board member Steve Navara agrees with Parriott, saying those in the district need to become informed and go to the polls on election day.

“I’d like to make a passionate appeal to the stakeholders that they get behind this. That’s the only way this is going to happen,” he adds.

Currently, the three-story high school has nearly 650 students in grades K-12.

USC?officials say a new school is needed because the average age of the district’s buildings is 50 years, they have failing and deteriorating infrastructure and will not be able to meet future technological needs.

Jensen says the next step will be to go back to the architects to see if cost estimates have changed.

He expects to have the information by the board’s meeting in May.