Board discusses school repairs

FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County School Board discussed plans and financing for energy-efficient projects and several replacements and renovations for Ressie Jeffries Elementary at a work session on Thursday.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard introduced the cash flow analysis for projects that are part of the Energy Performance Contract.

“The energy savings project will save us money by putting energy-efficient products in our schools,” she said.

Projects mentioned that would save the division more than $350,000 included upgrading lighting systems to T8 lamps and various water conservation efforts across multiple schools.

Some projects in the plan would be welcome news to those who spoke about conditions at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School at the Oct. 8 meeting. Replacement of exterior doors and replacing HVAC systems in the gymnasium and two out of three sections of the school would account for a little less than half the projects’ total cost.

“We could do all of that project with the energy savings that we’re going to gain from replacing the lights and the water, the wells and things like that,” Sheppard said in regards to the HVAC systems.

Other proposals for renovations and improvements at the elementary school are part of an additional list that will require additional capital. Replacement of HVAC systems for the rest of the school, installation of LED lighting across the division, ceiling and flooring replacement and creation of a more secure front entranceway at the school total a little over $2.5 million in costs after energy savings are factored in. Removal of asbestos would cost an additional $117,700.

Funding for those projects could come from the Water Street Property sale, the half-cent tax increase approved by the Board of Supervisors last year and a $2 million surplus built into the budget for the new middle school. Sheppard said the board should have an idea of how much of the $2 million surplus will be needed for additional building costs by February. The VirginiaSAVES program could also provide a lower interest rate for the projects.

The board discussed options for fixing the school’s flat and leaking roof by refurbishing or replacing it with a similar rubber membrane roof or adding a new pitched roof. Although the pitched roof could cost up to $2,560,000 to design and construct, it bears an additional 40 years of warranty over the other two options.

“It just makes sense to spend a little bit more money and have something that’s going to last us 60 years as opposed to half that amount in 20 years,” said Chair Catherine Bower.

Next week, the building committee will go over funding options for the projects. Board member James Wells said that given the guaranteed sources of capital, the board should move sooner rather than later.

“I think because there’s some timelines on the possible funding and that kind of thing, I think we want to move just as quickly as possible,” he said.

The Special Education Advisory Committee had encouraged board members to attend certain workshops at the Virginia School Board Association convention on Nov. 18. Board members scheduled what workshops they’ll attend and discussed sharing their experience at a later meeting.

Board members also looked over the second draft of the 2016-2017 school year calendar, which will include 16 professional days for faculty to work on new school programs and initiatives over this year’s 13 professional days. The board will present the draft to school faculty, hold the first reading at the Nov. 12 meeting and approve it by the December meeting.

In light of the replacement needed for the payroll specialist position and 90-day training period, the School Board appointed Annette Bass as interim payroll specialist through Jan. 29. Members also discussed the name they’ll suggest to the town for the road leading to the new middle school from Leach Run. The board moved that the name “Academic Drive” should be recommended to the town.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com