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Caroline School Board approves pair of contracts for renovations

The Caroline School Board approved two contracts with architectural firm OWPR Monday night for renovations to Madison Elementary and Caroline High School.

Two School Board members, Mattaponi’s Nancy Carson and Port Royal’s Tinka Harris, voted against the approval of the contract.

Final approval will be given once the school system’s attorney has reviewed the contract.

In November, nearly 80 percent of Caroline voters gave officials their approval to spend $25 million on the renovations.

The School Board also approved executive committees for the two projects Monday night.

The committee for the Caroline High project includes school principal Jeff Wick and Geoffrey Honan, Neil Black, Stephanie Covington, Robert Plaskett, Steve Wilkerson, Carlton Lewis and Frank Gee.

The committee for the Madison Elementary project includes school principal Scott Belako and Annie Phipps–Smith, Cindy St. Clair, Teresa Hicks, J.D. Satterwhite, Geoffrey Honan, John Gresham, Jim Heimbach and Herbert Tate.

The next step will be the submittal of designs from the architect.

The design for the outdoor athletic facilities at the high school is expected in April, Madison Elementary plans in May and the remainder of the design for the high school in August, said Randy Jones, the CEO of the architectural firm.

The school system plans to keep the public informed through a website that will have the design plans and any design and construction updates though out the process.

“We interpreted the response on the referendum as very positive support for the school and we wanted to continue that level of communication to show we appreciate the trust the public has put in us,” said Geoffrey Honan, a co-chair of both committees and the school system’s director of maintenance. He said the school system is “trying to be 21st-century.”

Last month, the Caroline Board of Supervisors approved financing for the renovations.

The county’s financial consultant advised the county to select the plan proposed by SunTrust, which has a 15-year fixed rate and a 20-year amortization. That plan would cost the county $34.62 million—the $25 million cost of the construction, plus the cost of issuing bonds, plus interest. The county would borrow the money at a locked-in rate of 3.17 percent over 15 years.

Renovations at the high school will run about $21 million, and work at the elementary school will cost $4 million. The remaining $1.3 million will be used to pay for the issuance of the bonds.

School officials hope to break ground on both projects by the summer.

The renovations to the high school, which was built in 1975, would include new classrooms; new electrical service; an updated intercom system; new locker rooms, restrooms and plumbing upgrades; painting throughout; new lighting and sound systems for the auditorium; and a new administrative area, media center, 2,500-seat gym, new classrooms and three vocational labs.

The current gym will be used as an auxiliary gym. Renovations are also planned for the high school’s athletic facilities.

The capacity at the high school would grow from 1,100 to 1,800 students.

The renovations planned at Madison Elementary School are less extensive.

The school was built in the 1950s, but was renovated in 2004. The planned improvements include constructing a new secure entrance with an expanded lobby, expanding the cafeteria, adding four new classrooms, adding two new computer labs, and constructing a newly paved pickup and drop-off area for school buses.

The School Board elected George Spaulding of Bowling Green District as chairman and Mattaponi’s Nancy Carson as vice chairwoman.

The School Board and the Board of Supervisors will meet in a joint session tonight to discuss the project further. The meeting will be at 5 p.m. at the Community Services Center, 17202 Richmond Turnpike, in Milford.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413