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Culpeper plans to build new school, renovate 2 others

Culpeper County residents should brace themselves for some serious tax increases over the next five years.

Monday, the School Board voted 5–0 to adopt a $102 million, five-year capital improvement plan that includes the construction of one new school and the renovation of two others.

If the plan follows its prescribed schedule, almost $43 million would be needed between now and 2016 to build a new middle school at some undetermined location.

In 2018, the School Board proposes to spend about $30 million to renovate Culpeper Middle School, which will be 40 years old by that time.

The plan also calls for the renovation of Sycamore Park Elementary School in 2018 at a cost of $11.5 million, as well as an additional $2 million to return Floyd T. Binns Middle School to an elementary school.

This ambitious plan comes on the heels of a $21 million Culpeper High renovation project that is now underway.

Resurfacing parking lots, repairing roofs and replacing aging heating and air-conditioning units are also part of the long-range package.

At the request of board member George Dasher, the new middle school construction project was shifted from 2017 to 2016 because of pressing space issues.

According to school officials, both Culpeper Middle School and Floyd T. Binns Middle School are now at capacity. While there is space for a possible addition at Culpeper Middle, the School Board and the town of Culpeper agreed a decade ago that Binns’ capacity should be capped at 800 students.

Dasher suggested renovation money for Binns should be sought in 2017 instead of 2018, but Vice Chairwoman Elizabeth Hutchins felt that the board, with big projects in 2016 and 2018, should not press its luck.

“The taxpayers may need a bit of a breather [in 2017],” she said.

At Monday’s meeting, which was moved ahead three hours due to the bad weather, construction projects manager Hunter Spencer said that a third hall at Culpeper High is almost completely renovated and ready to be put back into service.

He added that bids for security vestibules at five schools (Pearl Sample, Culpeper Middle, Farmington, Sycamore Park and A. G. Richardson) came in some $50,000 less than anticipated. That leftover money, Spencer said, should almost be enough to build vestibules at Emerald Hill, Binns and the Culpeper High annex.

“We did pretty well,” Spencer said, adding that all the vestibule construction projects were contracted to local builders. All are expected to be completed by late February.

A total of $288,000 had been budgeted for the first five schools. The bids totaled $234,000.

Donnie Johnston:

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