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Frederick County schools may wait until fall bond sale

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Transportation facility, land for fourth high school planned for 2012

By J.R. Williams-jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The Frederick County School Board will likely wait until fall to participate in a bond sale to help finance pending capital improvement projects, but work will not come to a halt in the interim, officials said.

Lisa Frye, executive director of finance for the school system, briefed School Board members on the strategy at a meeting Tuesday night. At its center is the school system's top capital improvements project: A new transportation facility to be constructed behind Armel Elementary School on U.S. 522 south.

While 57 acres was acquired in January 2009 for the facility, which will provide a maintenance site for Frederick County's entire vehicle fleet, the Board of Supervisors has not yet given the green light for construction.

Design work and bid solicitation for the estimated $14 million project is under way now.
It's projected in the school system's capital improvements plan to open in July 2012.

Frye reported the school division has enough cash available to complete site testing and design of the facility, estimated to cost $462,323.

"We've got enough to get to the street, and that's the number one priority," Frye said.
But other projects are in play. A search continues for land for a replacement Frederick County Middle School and a fourth high school.

Although no sites have been selected yet, the school system wants to be prepared should supervisors approve a land deal that would close before November, or construction of the transportation facility moves ahead.

Should that occur, the county would consider a resolution for each project to be reimbursed by the fall bond sale.

"Those conversations [with the county administrator's office] have taken place, and we're comfortable with this recommendation," Frye said.

Keeping debt service down was one goal of an agreement between the School Board and Board of Supervisors reached in August to move forward on the projects.

"We're in this position because we've run a number of projects on schedule and under budget, and that's what's afforded us this opportunity," said School Board member Ben Waterman.

In other business, the panel:

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the School Board, the Board of Supervisors and the county Parks and Recreation Department.

The updated document includes an inventory of school facilities, including those recently constructed, and defines guidelines for their use.

• Approved the calendar for 2011-12, which lists the first day of school as Aug. 24, the last day as June 12, 2012 (including five days for inclement weather) and spring break April 2-9, 2012.

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