School garners community support
It’s been called the “cornerstone” of the community and in light of rumors calling for its closure, residents and public officials are rallying to garner support to keep Paden City High School open, for always.
In response to the outpouring, a public hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at 6 p.m. at Paden City High School. According to Rodney McWilliams, a spokesperson for the Cornerstone committee and president of the Paden City Foundation, the hearing will give people from the community the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions about the future of the school.
The Cornerstone committee has gathered information from a variety of sources including the county schools’ central office and the West Virginia State Department of Education. At present, the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan, or CEFP, has not been approved but public opinion must be gathered before a vote can be taken. A vote on the plan is anticipated soon with Board of Education meetings planned for April 5 and 19, when board members will vote to approve the plan, reject the plan or request it to be re-written.
This dedicated group of concerned citizens has been working hard for nearly a year in response to the proposed CEFP. “Our goal is to make public the information we have gathered over the course of the past year and help the Board of Education to realize that the plan as it is written is not the best plan for Wetzel County,” McWilliams commented.
In addition members of the Cornerstone committee, students and alumni will attend the meeting to make presentations and recommendations to the board on behalf of their alma mater and dispel misinformation and untruths that are circulating around the county regarding Paden City High School.
“The truth is the plan calls for the merging of Paden City High School into an existing Magnolia High School. It is not a consolidation,” McWilliams clarified. “It is absorbing one school into another. Also, the operating costs at PCHS or any one school are not prohibiting opportunities at other schools.”
“In fact, we were told the county schools are better off financially now than they have been in many years.”If total county costs area problem, then spending cuts should be proposed across the county. You shouldn’t sacrifice a higher performing school for the sake of cutting costs. That sends a message that costs trump education in the county,” McWilliams said.
As evidenced by test scores, the curriculum offered at PCHS is equal to or better than other schools in the county. “When you couple the cost efficiency and academic excellence with the overwhelming community financial support Paden City High School receives, the choice is obvious – this school is an example of a successful school and one from which to pattern others,” McWilliams said.
In cooperation with the City of Paden City and the Cornerstone committee, the Paden City Foundation is asking residents of the city to show support for the town and the schools, especially in the month of April, which has been deemed “Pride is Paden City Schools” month. They are asking the townspeople to “paint it green” with banners, flags, yard signs, etc.
New signs are available at the Paden City Museum and the Days Gone By Pub.
Additionally, the Cornerstone committee is asking everyone in Paden City and those who support the school to attend the meeting on March 25 as they rally to save the school.
“We want everyone to come, wear their green and white, and bring their yard signs with them. The Board of Education is required, by law, to hear our opinions on this plan before they can vote on it. This is our best opportunity to give our opinion in a dignified manner but still get our point across. We don’t intend to fight this battle every couple of years. This community shouldn’t have to and it is time that Wetzel County realizes the asset we have in Paden City High School,” said McWilliams.