PE Schools Discuss Capital Plan Ideas

Published 3:08 pm Monday, December 31, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – County school board members have a capital idea.

A capital improvement idea.

Capital improvements are typically one-time costs for a project. A draft list of projects was presented at the school board's December meeting compiled by staff. It was offered as a starting point.

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“This capital plan is based on a threshold of projects $50,000 or more and, also, you can see some of the quotes…would need to be updated and verified before they're included in a final capital improvement plan,” cited the school Director of Finance Cindy Wahrman.

If approved, it would be a first. Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith cited that neither they nor the County has a capital improvement plan.

The $50,000 figure, Dr. Smith also said, is an arbitrary figure that could be higher, while adding they “certainly wouldn't want it to be lower.” However, he added that if it were higher (such as $100,000), everything on the list under that amount would be funded out of the maintenance budget-site improvements, repair budget.

Projects would be mapped out over a five-year period and prioritized with the portion for a specific year coming in a budget request to the County's board of supervisors.

Athletic Complex

The priciest project on the list was a 2009 estimate for renovating the athletic complex, $5.3 million. A firm had conducted a study and presented a report that factored crowning the football field, moving the baseball field so it is separate from the football field, updating the softball field, creating a practice field, upgrading the stadium bleachers-removing and replacing the seating areas-and increasing the capacity of attendees, rebuilding the field house concession area, locker rooms and weight room and increase restroom facilities.

That, Wharman offered, is giving them everything they could ever imagine for an athletic complex.

“…It's been referred to several times as a Cadillac plan. I don't think I would use that terminology. I think…it really is more of a bare bones plan when you think in terms of what our facility needs to be for the benefit of our students and our community,” Division Superintendent Dr. Smith commented.

The field, he added, gets heavy use by school groups and community groups.

“The wear and tear on those facilities really takes its toll,” Dr. Smith said. “We can't keep up with the maintenance on it. And, the other thing is that we hear concerns voiced from members of the community about crowds at football games and the number of folks milling around because there aren't enough seats. It seems to be a less than organized kind of environment where if we had seating capacity-schools with larger seating capacity are able to move crowds into seats instead of having crowds milling around all over the facility and it really increases the safety of the crowd when you can do that…”

He would add that it's a plan that is “badly needed for our facility and I think it would make some huge improvements also in the way our community views the schools-certainly in the way the students view the schools that we provide for them.”

The Cadillac plan, added board member Dr. Lawrence Varner, is for another $1-2 million that provides artificial turf.

Board members also cited facility comparisons with surrounding school divisions and it was noted that Prince Edward is not where they are.

Also included on the draft capital improvement list is a $60,764 cost to laser grade and reseeding the football field. That, detailed Dr. Smith, is a component of the big plan.

“But, if we're not able to secure funding to start on the big plan that needs to be done from a safety standpoint,” he said. “The playing surface on the football field needs to be graded. It's got to be reseeded.”

He noted that it's a safety concern as well as an appearance concern.

The figure, which is as current as November, factors the installation of an irrigation system. Still, the superintendent noted, it's work they need to move ahead with for next year.

“The problem, though, is if you do that, that's not part of the $5.3 (million),” Dr. Varner said. “Because the $5.3 (million) includes shifting the field and getting rid of the field house the way it is.”

That's the complication, Dr. Smith added, in trying to do components of the large plan piecemeal. He noted, however, that they've got to keep upgrading the field to keep it safe.

But there's the dilemma of doing work to address an immediate field issue when there's the potential that the work would have to be redone.

“If we're going to move forward with the $5.3 (million) in the next five years, I'd say yeah, we're throwing it away,” Dr. Varner said, “but in all likelihood are we (going to) do that? So the $60 (thousand) is probably a good thing to do.”

Dr. Smith added, “Looking at it that way, if we think that it looks like there's a chance that we may get some money to work on the larger project, if you look at the idea that was submitted this month (with the $60,000 improvements to the field), that included the installation of an irrigation system. You can reduce that cost and focus on the grading and the reseeding and remove the irrigation and probably reduce that by 40 percent.”

Board member Darin Thomas asked about possible grants; Wahrman noted that they have been looking and have found a stipulation that you can't charge gate admission. The athletic program, she added, operates from those gate admissions. Many things, she cited, function from the gate receipts.

It was believed that they would have to do without gate receipts for three years. It was suggested they may look to the County to make up for the lost gate receipts if they can get grant monies to improve the facilities.

“I say it's worth a try,” Dove commented.

Dr. Varner also asked about the possible use of Tobacco Commission monies; the Superintendent is expected to look into the possibility.

In a related discussion, Dr. Varner reflected that when then-superintendent Dr. Patricia Watkins was there, an anonymous donor gave $100,000 for the athletic complex. “Is that money still sitting aside for that?” he asked.

Wahrman offered that she would check on it.

'…If I was that anonymous donor, I would not be very happy if that money has gotten incorporated to the overall budget,” Dr. Varner said.

Other Needs

The draft list-at least at this point-includes an array of projects ranging from division-wide needs improvements to the tennis courts ($78,000), soccer field-laser grade, reseeding and adding a sprinkler system, and repairing waterline from pump house to the field ($105,000), repave/seal all parking lots ($55,000) and controls on all heating/cooling units to tie back into maintenance computer controls ($103,100).

Elementary school projects included replacement of plumbing lines for buildings B, E and F that are currently underground and corroded ($114,269), replacing wall units for heating/air conditioning for five buildings ($275,600), roof repairs/replacement for Building G ($273,000), and roof repairs/replacement for Buildings D and E ($386,000).

Middle school needs include the replacement of a boiler that supplies heat to the sixth grade area, replacement of six HVAC units ($159,000), and enclosing the entryway from the fifth grade wing to the main buildings (TBD).

Possible high school projects include the renovation of the auditorium (TBD), replace/relocate greenhouse (TBD), and roof replacement for the auditorium, cafeteria and library ($407,700).

Projects at the career technical center include the installation of an HVAC control system ($40,000) and roof replacement ($309,000).

Also factored were the bus replacement cycle-three per year ($300,000).