New South High charter school plan headed to planning commission

MORGANTOWN — A reconfigured plan to open a charter school in the former Monongalia County Schools central office building at 13 South High Street will soon be before the Morgantown Planning Commission. 

Abdul Tarabishy is one three individuals who make up AST Morgantown Properties, the building’s new owner.  

The group is aiming to open the Wisdom Academy Charter School for up to 100 students from kindergarten through sixth grade in August 2025. 

During a recent work session with the city’s planning commission and Development Services Director Rickie Yeager, Tarabishy explained how he’s addressed the concerns that had his development of significant impact site plan application stalled before the body earlier this year. 

The commission tabled the request in January and very nearly denied it in February before tabling it a second time.  

In both instances, members expressed concerns over pedestrian safety as well as the potential for traffic to back up on South High as vehicles queue to pick up and drop off students via the parking area’s single entrance/exit. 

Tarabishy explained the group recently purchased a school bus with a capacity of 72 students that will run a single route through Morgantown in order to cut down the amount of traffic coming to the school. 

Parents who opt to drop off and pick up their kids will approach the school from the back, using Prairie Avenue.  

“This route is the Morgantown High School pick-up and drop-off route,” Tarabishy said. “It will be us and the high school utilizing that for a potential queueing line.” 

He noted the charter school will begin and dismiss after MHS to avoid adding to an already-hectic traffic situation. 

Lastly, he said the school will have trained crossing guards situated around the property and plans to hire off-duty police officers to keep things moving. 

While the traffic measures seemed to alleviate a number of the commission’s worries, there’s still some ground to cover. 

Members said they want to see something from the West Virginia Division of Highways indicating it will install school zone signage and a crosswalk on South High. 

Tarabishy said he’s working with both the city and the DOH to that end. He also pointed out that MHS students are already crossing South High Street at that location every day. 

“I think it’s a now problem, not an August 2025 problem. It’s our problem and it’s a city problem, but it’s a city problem right now,” he said, later adding, “It would be my question then why the high school can do it and not us.” 

Commissioner Tim Stranko responded. 

“I’m not going to answer that question and I’m not going to debate with you. It’s our concern here whether this development is safe and appropriate for the neighborhood … That’s our job and that’s what we’re doing. What the high school does or doesn’t do is not in front of us and so it doesn’t matter to me, frankly,” he said. 

Yeager said there have been internal discussions involving city staff about what kinds of improvements would be appropriate, “but I don’t believe that level of discussion has happened with the DOH yet.” 

Ultimately, Stranko said, the issue is going to come down to whether the commission believes the school can and will implement and enforce the measures described by Tarabishy. 

“Once we cut this loose, we have no authority. I think it’s a great plan and I appreciate the creativity, but it all depends on who cooperates,” Stranko said, adding “In the end, we have to rely on your good faith to make this plan work. There’s nothing we can do after we say ‘yes’ here.” 

TWEET @DominionPostWV