Sand Hill Elementary sits about 4 feet lower today than it did before Pennsylvania-based Consol Energy mined under the tiny Marshall County complex last year, said Assistant Superintendent Wayne Simms.
In that case, however, Consol and the board collaborated on a mutually beneficial agreement that allowed the coal company to stick with its mining plan while paying the district for its inconvenience.
Consol provided daily maps showing what panel its crews were mining, Simms said. Knowing what panel the school sat over, officials were able to track Consol's progress. About two weeks before mining reached Sand Hill, they moved the 70 children and their teachers to another facility.
"Blocks could fall out of the ceiling, lights could fall, whatever, and we didn't want to deal with that hassle," Simms said. "We wanted to be sure the kids were safe."
For about six weeks after mining ended, the district waited while the settling continued, watching as walls cracked and doors became stuck.
Consol, which had signed a contract to replace the entire school if it was damaged beyond repair, then hired a contractor to repair everything and the children moved back in.
"We had a really good relationship, a really good understanding," Simms said. "And really good documents."
DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said several permits for the Buckhannon project are pending and a public hearing will be scheduled once the applications are deemed technically complete.
The Hampton Mine would come close to the reserves at ICG's Sago Mine, which was closed after 12 men died after an explosion and prolonged entrapment in January 2006.
But the Buckhannon River stands between the two operations, and DEP senior engineer Clarence Wright said it would remain an impediment to reaching the Sago reserves even at that depth.
Reaching the Sago reserves is not part of ICG's current proposal, he said.
So far, the DEP said, the school board is the only party to object to the project to ICG's plan.
ICG, based in Scott Depot, is the target of a $3.4 billion buyout by St. Louis-based Arch Coal, a deal that's designed to meet growing demand for high-priced coal used to manufacture steel.
Arch didn't immediately comment on the Hampton project.