Talks over bonds, construction timelines on hold

PARKERSBURG — Debate over the fate of Waverly Elementary School derailed a discussion of bonds and construction timelines at Tuesday’s Wood County Board of Education meeting, with officials saying the school must be addressed before other steps can be taken.

Board members disagree on whether a $41 million bond call approved by voters in November included the closure of the elementary along with Williamstown Elementary School to create a new Williamstown-area elementary. State officials have said the bond language was unclear and are requiring the district to hold a hearing on consolidation of the school.

Bond and financial counsel for the school system have tentatively scheduled the beginning of the bond sale for March 28, with the final sale occurring April 11. The dates are intended to allow the board time to resolve the hearing process for Waverly Elementary.

A resolution and order allowing the sale of the bonds was presented to the board Tuesday, and included a reference to closing the school. Board member Rick Tennant, who has repeatedly opposed the consolidation plan, argued the board could still opt to keep Waverly open, and questioned whether sale of the bonds could still move forward if Waverly did not close.

“I think the board has been very clear. It was clear the intent was to close Waverly” and Williamstown Elementary to create a new school, said Sean Francisco, legal counsel for the board. “The bond call wasn’t as clear as we would have liked it to be. It referenced it but wasn’t clear.”