Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 13, 2014

Possible site found for Ceres Elementary facility

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A possible site has been found, so the Mercer County Board of Education now has to learn if the state School Building Authority will provide the funding necessary to build a new facility for the students of Ceres Elementary School.

The board of education has voted to proceed with an option to purchase land in Green Valley near the existing school, said Greg Prudich, the board’s president.

“What it does is protect the seller, and it protects us,” Prudich said after Tuesday’s vote. “We give them some money and they hold the land. We’ve really looked hard for land and this is probably the best we can find.”

The 36-acre property is close to nearby Airport Road and it is very close to Ceres Elementary, Prudich said.

“It can’t be more than a minute from the current Ceres School,” he added. A hill stands between the present school and the potential site for a replacement. “I think if you had a really good arm, you could throw a rock from Ceres School to the corner of the new property.”

Other locations have been considered, but they proved to be too expensive for the school system, he said.

Mercer County Schools would contribute $2 million of the estimated $11 million needed for the project, Prudich stated. An application has been presented to the state School Building Authority.

Superintendent Deborah Akers said the school board would make its presentation March 18 to the SBA in Charleston. The board is asking for $9 million. SBA officials will make their decision by April 28.

Ceres Elementary School has been expanded several times, Akers said. Its oldest section is 88 years old. The location alone is a drawback.

“It’s too close to the road, and in order to access the playground, the students have to go across the parking lot,” Akers said. “There’s no gymnasium or indoor physical education center. We have two portable classrooms out there; those students have to go to the main building for lunch.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com