Jefferson County Schools
(304) 725-6487 Fax
Dr. Steven Nichols Dr. Lori Stilley, President
Delores Milstead, VP
Doris M. Cline
Paul R. Manzuk
The Honorable James Ruland
Chairman, County Commission
Jefferson County Government
104 East Washington Street
Charles Town, WV 25414
Dear Chairman Ruland:
I would like to introduce myself as the new Superintendent of Schools for Jefferson County. I hope in the near future to meet you personally, and endeavor to find ways in which the school system and County Commission can best work together for the children we both serve and their families.
Today I write to express concerns I have about the development of this community and the inability of schools to keep pace. This morning’s mail contained notice of a subdivision review meeting to be held by the Planning Commission. This document informs me there are likely to be an additional 469 housing units approved (if all goes according to the developer’s plan).
While I am not opposed to growth, I am facing a crisis in that as a school system I cannot hang a “sorry-full” sign on our doors. We must accept all children and at this time we are not able to keep up with growth, even though we are working diligently to seek additional school funding, supporting impact fees, and a host of other initiatives to relieve the situation.
Presently, I am offering some suggested changes to the existing county ordinances that directly affect school population. I am hopeful this will start a discussion that might provide some relief, while still permitting growth.
Under the Subdivision Ordinance (section 7.1) contains the following paragraph:
“Particularly under the category of Social Impacts…adequacy of available public
and private services to meet the demands expected from the subdivision proposal
as fully developed. Statements of adequacy from appropriate service agencies may
be submitted in this regard.”
The Honorable James Ruland
Chair, County Commission
I would request that consideration be given to insert between these two sentences a new sentence that addresses our school situation in particular, and other services in general. That sentence should read:
The development proposal should not be approved (except under very specific, special circumstances) until adequacy can be shown.
Consideration should also be given to the word “available,” since it might be more precise to substitute “existing or planned/ financed.”
Under the Zoning Review Ordinance (section 6.4 e) the awarding of points used in the decision making process refers to simply “proximity to schools.” This is not the issue—the issue for schools is simply space to house them, therefore, I would encourage an addition of the phrase “with sufficient capacity for students generated by the project” immediately following any ordinance reference to proximity to schools.
Certainly, I can appreciate the challenge you and the Commission face, just as I’m sure you can appreciate my challenges. I am seeking some help with the growth of our school system at a time when adequate funding does not exist. I am aware that the changes I propose will have effects upon our county, but as the Board of Education and I work together to address our issues; I am simply asking for some assistance from the Commission.
Thank you for your support and consideration of my requests.
Dr. Steven Nichols