Dickenson County School Board has filed suit against the Dickenson County Board of Supervisors and the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority, claiming the two are unconstitutionally blocking access to school construction funds because they don’t agree with where the school board wants to build a new elementary school.

“The IDA and Board of supervisors do not have the right to do indirectly what they cannot do directly,” the suit argues.

“In particular,” it says, “the IDA and the Board of Supervisors do not have the right to withhold disbursements based on their disagreement with the location for the new elementary school.”

The suit was filed in Dickenson County Circuit Court June 26, the day after county supervisors approved its 2019-2020 budget, which included $7 million in funding for the public school system. (See related story.)

The school board asks the court for a declaratory judgment that:

• the school board has exclusive authority to determine the location of the new elementary school;

• the school board has the right to locate the new elementary school at Ridgeview, Clinchco or another site of its choosing;

• any restrictions or limitations in the Facilities Development Agreement on the right of the school board to determine the location of the new elementary school are unconstitutional and ultra vires and therefore invalid and unenforceable; and

• the IDA and board of supervisors do not have the right to withhold disbursements under the agreement on account of any decision of the school board related to the location of the new elementary school.

The school board seeks a temporary and permanent injunction enjoining them from doing so.

The actions of the IDA and Board of Supervisors “violate the constitutional, statutory and contractual authority of the school board to determine the location of the new elementary school,” the suit says. As a result, it says the school board is threatened with irreparable harm, which includes “delay in providing improved educational facilities to student in Dickenson County and loss of funding value due to rising construction costs and inflation.

“The school board has no adequate remedy for this harm.”

The suit points out that construction inflation is reducing the value of the available funding by $85,000 monthly.

From the supervisor’s own projections, the Upper Backbone Ridge site would cost about $6.2 million more to build than at Ridgeview and almost $4 million more than at Clinchco.

The school board decided at its November 2018 meeting to evaluate sites at Ridgeview and Clinchco. The suits says county supervisors want the school built in Sandlick or Haysi.

Because the total funding of $110.6 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was dependent on future appropriations by Congress, it states, the school board, supervisors and the IDA entered into the Facilities Development Agreement to finance the new schools.

The agreement among the three states that the goal was to construct schools at centrally located sites — the high school, middle school and career tech at Rose Ridge and a new elementary school “in an area yet to be determined in the area of Sandlick, Haysi or Clinchco.” Noting contractual commitments made and funds paid to third parties based upon these locations, the three “irrevocably commit” that these locations shall be where the schools are built, the suit cites from the agreement.

The suit says both sites being considered by the school board are in the area of Clinchco. One is directly in town and the other is at Ridgeview, “which is only seven miles from Clinchco by highway and only 2.4 miles from Clinchco as the crow flies.”

The suit notes that the agreement includes provision for what to do when the parties are unable to resolve a dispute through negotiation or mediation. The agreement provides that the dispute will be submitted to this court for resolution.

The three bodies have been at odds and at a stalemate for literally years.

headline

BY JENAY TATE

Editor and Publisher

Dickenson County School Board has filed suit against the Dickenson County Board of Supervisors and the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority, claiming the two are unconstitutionally blocking access to school construction funds because they don't agree with where the school board wants to build a new elementary school.

"The IDA and Board of supervisors do not have the right to do indirectly what they cannot do directly," the suit argues.

"In particular," it says, "the IDA and the Board of Supervisors do not have the right to withhold disbursements based on their disagreement with the location for the new elementary school."

The suit was filed in Dickenson County Circuit Court June 26, the day after county supervisors approved its 2019-2020 budget, which included $7 million in funding for the public school system. (See related story.)

The school board asks the court for a declaratory judgment that:

• the school board has exclusive authority to determine the location of the new elementary school;

• the school board has the right to locate the new elementary school at Ridgeview, Clinchco or another site of its choosing;

• any restrictions or limitations in the Facilities Development Agreement on the right of the school board to determine the location of the new elementary school are unconstitutional and ultra vires and therefore invalid and unenforceable; and

• the IDA and board of supervisors do not have the right to withhold disbursements under the agreement on account of any decision of the school board related to the location of the new elementary school.

The school board seeks a temporary and permanent injunction enjoining them from doing so.

The actions of the IDA and Board of Supervisors "violate the constitutional, statutory and contractual authority of the school board to determine the location of the new elementary school," the suit says. As a result, it says the school board is threatened with irreparable harm, which includes "delay in providing improved educational facilities to student in Dickenson County and loss of funding value due to rising construction costs and inflation.

"The school board has no adequate remedy for this harm."

The suit points out that construction inflation is reducing the value of the available funding by $85,000 monthly.

From the supervisor's own projections, the Upper Backbone Ridge site would cost about $6.2 million more to build than at Ridgeview and almost $4 million more than at Clinchco.

Because the costs of building a new elementary school in Haysi or Sandlick would be significantly higher and because the location needs to be adaptable to future circumstances, the suit states, the school board plans to build the new school either on the Ridgeview campus or at the site of the old Clinchco Elementary school. County supervisors want the school built in Sandlick or Haysi.

Because the total funding of $110.6 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was dependent on future appropriations by Congress, it states, the school board, supervisors and the IDA entered into the Facilities Development Agreement to finance the new schools.

The agreement among the three states that the goal was to construct schools at centrally located sites — the high school, middle school and career tech at Rose Ridge and a new elementary school "in an area yet to be determined in the area of Sandlick, Haysi or Clinchco." Noting contractual commitments made and funds paid to third parties based upon these locations, the three "irrevocably commit" that these locations shall be where the schools are built, the suit cites from the agreement.

The suit says both sites being considered by the school board are in the area of Clinchco. One is directly in town and the other is at Ridgeview, "which is only seven miles from Clinchco by highway and only 2.4 miles from Clinchco as the crow flies."

The three bodies have been at odds over the location literally for years.

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