New PE High School?

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

PRINCE EDWARD — Despite declining overall student numbers, could County School Board members take a look at a new high school?


“I do want to put new school on here,” offered School Board member Sherry Honeycutt on a potential capital improvement list. “Because we have the fields on here. But to me, if we—and it’s not based on ADM, the number of students, it’s just based on the age of school. And we keep repairing, repairing, repairing and comes the time with me when you need to just start over.”

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The school board, meeting in their first budget work session of the New Year last week, was taking a preliminary look at a capital projects list—a wish list of sorts for major needs and a funding timetable. One of the items on that list includes the construction of athletic fields for the high school.

Honeycutt, in presenting her proposal, offered that they could configure the school in different grades and that she had a dream to possibly make the high school an alternative regional school where it can make money like a charter school where other communities can send their children. (She noted they seem to be doing a good job with their own alternative school, suggesting that they can grow it.)

“And then build a high school on the land that the County has already acquired and indicated that they might be willing to allow us to build on,” Honeycutt said.

They could then put an athletic complex with the new school instead of spending (about $5 million as had been projected) to improve the existing facilities, she suggested. She also offered that Southside Virginia Community College wants to put a workforce development center in.

“There might be some other possible uses…,” added Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith.

The County owns about 27 acres near the bus garage, which is large enough for a middle or high school.

Not everyone, however, was on board for the new high school concept.

“…You said the high school…but for me, from a safety standpoint, I would like to see something done to the elementary school,” commented School Board Chairman Russell Dove, later adding that “it’s a safety nightmare.”

The school board is only at the start of its budget process and would need to adopt a capital budget. What, if any, part of the school suggestion will get incorporated is still to be determined.

In any event, funding for capital projects would have to be approved by the County’s Board of Supervisors.

“We—if we don’t ask, we probably won’t get anyway, but if we don’t ask, we know we won’t…,” Dove offered with a chuckle.

“…We start now, maybe in five years we’ll get it,” Honeycutt said.

Proposed Projects

Capital improvement projects span five years and an array of needs.

First year projects include replacing classroom and office locks ($120,000), enclosing the fifth grade wing entryway to the main building ($83,774), roof replacement at the middle school ($1,201,643), roof replacement at the career tech center ($459,316), installing HVAC controls on all heating and cooling units ($143,100), replacing HVAC units at the middle school ($159,000), replacing three buses ($300,000). In all, the first year of the Capital Improvement is projected to cost $2,466,833.

The second year of the plan includes an athletic complex renovation, which includes separating the baseball and football fields, renovating the football field adding irrigation, drainage and practice fields, and renovating and adding bleachers, renovating the concession stand and field lights. That is projected to cost $5.3 million.

Other second year projects include replacing plumbing lines in three elementary school buildings ($114,269), and replacing three buses ($300,000). The total cost for year two projects: $5,714,269.

Third year projects include renovation of the high school auditorium ($180,000), high school roof replacement ($1,076,944), renovation of the tennis courts ($78,000), and replacing three buses ($300,000). The total cost for year three projects is projected at $1,634,944.

Year four projects include roof repairs/replacements of four elementary school buildings ($1,119,934), replacing HVAC wall units for heating/cooling for five elementary school buildings ($374,395), and replacing three buses ($300,000). Projects for year four total $1,794,379.

Fifth year projects include replacing/relocating the greenhouse at the high school ($80,000) and three buses ($300,000). The two projects total $380,000.

Collectively, the projects over the five years total $11,990,375.

While the plan calls for the replacement of three buses each budget cycle, two were included in the preliminary budget plan with Dr. Smith highlighting being “sensitive to fiscal to realities.”

Overall, there are 52 buses listed as part of the system, with the oldest, an activity bus, a 1997 model. State guidelines, it was highlighted in the draft Capital Improvement Plan, indicate that regular route buses should not be over 15 years old. The oldest listed regular route buses include three 2000 models.