Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
School board gets extension on renovation contract
The Caroline County School Board received an extension on a bid to renovate Bowling Green Primary School.
The board met during a special meeting today afternoon to accept a Jan. 12 deadline to have a signed contract returned to contractor A.D. Whittaker of Ashland. This is the second extension that has been offered to the board.
The extension was much-needed after the county’s board of Supervisors took no action Tuesday on the school board’s request for an additional $3.5 million to complete the project.
School officials and a crowd of parents and teachers at that meeting were disappointed, saying they feared a delay may cost the county the $12 million bid it received, which had a Dec. 20 deadline.
The School Board has $9 million to complete the project, which would renovate and expand the current prekindergarten through second grade primary school into a pre-K through fifth grade elementary school that can hold 900 students.
Supervisors have been wary of giving more money because, as outgoing Supervisor Bobby Popowicz stated in various meetings, the
School Board sought bids for a 900-student school after being approved for funding for an 800-student school.
School Board Chairman Mack Wright said the school currently has 831 students and enrollment is growing. It makes no sense to build a
school that can’t handle the number of students there now, he said.
The School Board did make some suggested cuts to get down to $9 million, but the cuts would exclude things such as an attached
gymnasium, 14 new classrooms and better-quality products.
The bids came in higher than expected because the school’s architectural consultant, Randy Jones of OWPR in Blacksburg, forgot to take into account the Davis-Bacon wage rate, which mandate that a certain wage be paid for
projects that use federal funds.
That mandated wage rate adds nearly 10 percent to the costs. But the specific wage has not been set in stone, which has the supervisors
County Attorney Ben Emerson and Jones disagreed on whether the law would apply to the total $12 million project or just the $6 million of federal money.
The issue, and possibly a decision on more funding, will be discussed at the supervisor’s Jan. 10 meeting.
Supervisors borrowed $3 million earlier this year–adding about 2 cents to the real-estate tax for the next 20 years–to contribute to
the renovation, and $6 million was allocated in low-interest bonds from the Virginia Department of Education.
The federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides funding for the school construction bonds that can be used for consolidation projects, facilities more than 35 years old and projects in economically stressed areas. Bowling Green Primary opened in 1959.
In other school news, the board voted to close school on Jan. 2 to acknowledge the federal holiday.