The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
School board laments renovation funding plan
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Three members of the Culpeper County School Board made it clear last night that they are less than thrilled with the speed at which the Board of Supervisors is getting funds in place to cover the cost of renovating Culpeper High School.
The School Board is scheduled to award a contract for the approximately $20 million project late this month with the hope of getting work started in October. But construction projects manager Hunter Spencer told the School Board last night that the Board of Supervisors may not have the funds to appropriate for the project in October.
Division Superintendent Bobbi Johnson confirmed that the supervisors are working with New York bond rating agencies to get a better interest rate and that it might be November before the bonds are sold and the money is available.
“What will that do to our schedule?” asked School Board member Leanne Malulani.
The School Board had planned to start the project in October and complete it by August 2014. Since some of the work cannot be done while students are in class, two summers and two Christmas holidays are considered crucial to the schedule.
Construction projects manager Hunter Spencer said he didn’t think the schedule would be affected by a one-month appropriation delay, but School Board members were not so sure. “I’m not sure why we need to have this discussion,” said George Dasher. “We have been telling the supervisors and Mr. [County Administrator Frank] Bossio [when] we need this money for a long time,” said George Dasher. “If we miss those windows, we’re going to end up stretching the project out and it will cost money.”
School Board member Bob Beard, however, said that a more advantageous bond rating could save taxpayers much in interest and could provide more money for the project.
“There may be good and valid reasons” for the delay, Beard said.
But Vice Chairwoman Elizabeth Hutchins said that while it might be good to save taxpayer dollars, the project schedule was her primary concern at this point.
Spencer told the School Board that five general contractors are interested in the project and bids will be accepted until 2 p.m. on Sept. 17. The project’s oversight committee will go over those bids on Sept. 20 and should be prepared to make a recommendation at the School Board’s Sept. 24 meeting.
Also at last night’s meeting the School Board voted to pay bus driver bonuses on a monthly (instead of quarterly) basis and gave the OK to Augustine Homes for a temporary grading project adjacent to the bus turnaround at Yowell Elementary School.
The members also upped Johnson’s vehicle compensation from $500 to $700 per month.