Nicholas superintendent pitches ‘academy’ to community members

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

January 27, 2023

On Wednesday evening, the Nicholas County Board of Education met to discuss Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick’s plan for the “Nicholas County Academy of Academic Excellence.” As part of a mediated agreement between the school system and the West Virginia Department of Education, the proposed academy will be located on the Glade Creek complex in Summersville.  

Dr. Burge-Tetrick began her presentation by describing how the academy approach to education differs from conventional educational approaches. 

“Often when our students graduate,” she began, “they have very little direction in life. They aren’t sure if they’ll go to college or what they will major in.”

Burge-Tetrick explained that she wants to provide a pathway to meaningful employment for all Nicholas County students , whether they are interested in outdoor recreation, cosmetology, pet grooming, welding, autobody, mechanics, or tourism. 

According to Burge-Tetrick, the proposed academy includes learning options for students from kindergarten all the way through adult education. Over the course of a student’s career, he or she would receive opportunities for career exploration, career education, dual credit, and hands-on experience in their field of choice. 

“We need to keep our kids here in Nicholas County,” commented Burge-Tetrick. “Every program we offer, we have a pathway to employment for a student to do a job. That’s what’s going to get us there.” 

The problem facing the proposed academy, according to Burge-Tetrick, is space. The Nicholas County Career/Technical Center is located in Craigsville but cannot accommodate the full academy. “We can’t add more programs to the career center,” she said. “It’s full.” 

The solution, said Burge-Tetrick, is to build a new facility on the Glade Creek campus in Summersville. “The design of this new school at Glade Creek actually lends itself to provide the optimal delivery for this program,” she reported. The presentation included artist renderings of proposed “labs” where students receive practical training in their field of study from teachers and experts in the field. 

Board President Chip Perrine commented after the presentation about state-level interest in the academy’s success. 

“The state superintendent (David Roach) is excited about this program, and he’d like to adopt it for the whole state.” Perrine then laughed as he said, “I said we’d sell it to him because we need some more money. They didn’t offer that.” 

According to FEMA, Nicholas County Schools received a $177 million award in the wake of the 2016 flood. They chose to receive it as a lump sum. 

Due to inflation and higher-than-expected bids, Perrine (who was just elected to the board in 2022) expects the actual cost of the Richwood and Glade Creek projects to exceed the $177 million award. 

The Board voted to approve a bid of $42.5 million for a scaled-back plan to rebuild Richwood Middle and High School in November 2022. This March, they anticipate putting the Glade Creek project (which was also scaled-down last year) out to bid. The costs are unknown at this point. 

“We’re waiting on the architects to get the plans back to us, we’ll get them in March, put it out to bid, and pray for the best,” concluded Perrine as the meeting ended.

Stay tuned to RealWV for updates as this story continues to unfold.


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