Cabell School Board approves contract for new Career and Technical Center – WSAZ

CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The Cabell County Board of Education on Tuesday evening approved a construction contract for the new Woody Williams Center for Advanced Learning and Careers, an upgrade from the current Cabell County Career and Technical Center.
The contract with Neighborgall Construction is valued at $48,215,000 and would be located at the site of the former Sears at Huntington Mall.
The funding comes from Bond Proceeds and General Current Expense Fund.
“Making sure that we have a career and technical education center that’s meeting the 21st century job demands and preparing our students with necessary skills. It’s taking our career and technical education program and catapulting it to the 21st century and being able to provide phenomenal workforce programing for both high school students and adult learners,” Cabell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ryan Saxe said.
Funding does not come from West Virginia’s School Building Authority. Saxe said that is because only one project from a school district can be put up per year for funding and in 2021, Cabell County Schools presented the new Meadows Elementary for funding.
Saxe said Neighborgall’s bid was the lowest of four offered for construction.
“As it relates to construction projects, is projects coming in 35 to 45%, over projected costs from 2020, and this is a statewide trend. This is not just in Cabell County,” Saxe said. “Leveraging School Building Authority dollars, general fund dollars to make sure that these projects are done, and that we’re keeping our commitment to the taxpayers is a priority that the school board and this administration has.”
The current Vo-Tech Center is located in the 1000 block of Norway Avenue in Huntington. Saxe said that building was built in 1981 and there is a need for modern facilities for newer industries.
“Thinking about how the job market and industry skills are changing, things are more computerized, there are more technical requirements, there’s digitization, there’s robotics, the spaces that are in our current facility, not only have we outgrown that facility, but those spaces are also very difficult to renovate, and what we’re needing for today’s workforce development programming,” he said. “Being able to have innovative spaces, spaces that can also easily adapt to changes in programming, based upon how industry standards change is also extremely important and that’s what this building is able to do. It’s able to adapt to what industry needs and what workforce changes are expected over the next 20 to 30 years.”
The board’s decision Tuesday comes on the heels of a decision in early August to approve funding cuts in their excess levy that will be on the ballot in May 2024. Proposed cuts would affect the Cabell County Public Library system and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.
Some taxpayers addressed the board with their concerns about the cost.
“I understand about inflation. I mean, I buy things, too, when I see how much more money it costs, but this is [the board’s] responsibility and you have to be even-handed. I don’t expect that they have the money to give libraries and parks to send that they have,” Maxine Yaged said. “Anything that will enhance education. give people more options is, is great, if the old Technical Center is not adequate. This is a, it’s a great place, it’s an empty space. It’s just the cost of everything is worse.”
“I think that it’s really important that as we reflect upon our commitments to making sure that we are keeping our commitment to the 2020 bond school construction bond, and that as we prioritize these projects, that we’re making sure that we’re not sacrificing the educational needs of our students, and that we’re continuing to put our schools and our students first and the decisions that we’re making,” Saxe said.
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