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Brooke Point library work seems acceptable

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About $900,000 in renovations to the Brooke Point High School library may just survive the approval process.

The project didn’t receive forceful pushback from the three Stafford County Board of Supervisors members at a committee meeting on Monday, but school staff were encouraged to look at all potential funding sources before asking the county to borrow more money.

The nearly $1 million in library renovations are in addition to a $6.6 million renovation project that has already been approved at the high school.

A conceptual layout for the additional renovations includes a reading lounge, a circulation desk, a café, large- and small-group instruction areas and a computer room. That layout is still subject to change.

Stafford School Board members haven’t formally adopted the extended scope of the project.

But nearly all School Board members expressed support for a fully renovated library at the School Board meeting on Aug. 12.

The schools would still need Stafford supervisors to sign off on the costlier renovations. That decision would come early next year when supervisors consider the Capital Improvement Plan, a timeline of countywide facility projects that is reviewed annually.

But because the construction bids would have to be issued in January, School Board members put the library renovations on the committee agenda to gauge supervisors’ support of the issue.

“I think libraries are great. It will probably move things around on the CIP. That CIP is tight,” Supervisor Cord Sterling said.

Sterling added that even though it would move things around on the CIP, $900,000 was a relatively smaller number.

But Sterling also encouraged school staff to look at school funds that were carried over from the last fiscal year as a revenue source.

Schools Superintendent Bruce Benson said he doesn’t yet know what that carryover amount is.

Supervisors already gave approval to borrow $6.6 million between fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2016 for Brooke Point renovations.

The current $6.6 million plans call for renovating a small part of the existing library in addition to adding nine classrooms, expanding a wellness room, renovating the culinary arts area and adding a third performing arts suite for orchestra.

Brooke Point is one of three Stafford high schools slated to get additions during the next four years.

The fact that the School Board was spending less on Brooke Point’s renovations than the other two high schools drove some School Board members to support the expanded project.

Supervisor Meg Bohmke seemed supportive in light of what she saw as successful library renovations to Stafford, Falmouth and Grafton Village elementary schools.

Benson got behind the proposal after sitting in on meeting with the project’s designers.

“I know this has caught some folks off guard, I know that. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t bring this up,” Benson said. “If you go down the checklist of things that you want these spaces to look like, you won’t get many of those checks [with the current library].”

Benson added that the $900,000 is just an estimate. School staff are still working on firming up the numbers.

School Board member Irene Egan said that this would have been brought up sooner had Benson been superintendent when the Brooke Point renovations were mapped out.

“He’s doing the things that should have been done by the previous superintendent,” Egan said.

School Board member Nanette Kidby added that it was prudent to do the library renovations while the other renovations were already going on.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975