School saves big on improvement projects

By Ryan Cornell

WOODSTOCK — They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

And if the thousands of dollars saved in the capital improvement projects completed at Stonewall Jackson High School are any indication, Principal Mike Dorman knows people.

Presenting at the Shenandoah County School Board meeting earlier this month, Dorman highlighted a slew of projects completed at the school in the past four years.

“I don’t have to tell you guys — with the economic situation we’ve been in, it’s not been the best, but in spite of all that, we’ve gotten a lot of things done at Stonewall,” he said. “And at relatively low to no cost.”

A barbecue pit, which was destroyed during construction, was rebuilt with help from a Stonewall parent and money from donations and fundraising for less than $2,500.

A scoreboard by the school’s track was mounted and wired for less than $1,000, after Dorman was able to find local workers for the contractor.

He said the track was a “package deal” and was put in at a discount, using community support to offset the cost.

He said he was able to install an irrigation system, previously estimated at $26,000, for $13,000. The Town of Mount Jackson was running a main line down Cavern Road, he said, and he approached them and asked if he could run a tee off the line to the football field, which cut the price in half.

He was able to install lights on the football field for less than $3,000 because of generous contributions from local companies, and said they saved thousands of dollars on construction of the concession stand.

“Right now, I estimate that the building would’ve cost about $100,000 roughly and I have less than $5,000 in that project, all from the community,” Dorman said.

“We don’t have a whole lot of money, but folks have rolled up their sleeves, said ‘Hey, I know where I can find a few pieces of PVC, I know where I can get this,’ and pulled together. And it’s turned out to be a really nice facility.”

After hearing the presentation, School Board Chairman Rick Koontz told Dorman he was impressed by his financial savvy.

“You should be proud,” he said. “And you are a really good wheeler and dealer.”

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or

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