Warren refines Ressie plans

FRONT ROYAL – While discussing budget priorities during their February work session, members of the Warren County School Board reviewed designs for new additions to Ressie Jeffries Elementary School.

The district’s recent agreement with Ameresco Inc. will provide hundreds of thousands in annual energy savings that will help to furnish Ressie Jeffries’ infrastructural needs.

Adding a new entryway and pitched roofing to the school is one of its first projects to be tackled. Other projects will include HVAC replacements, more efficient lighting and water conservation installments. Many of those improvements will be implemented across the county.

At the work session, Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard showed multiple roofing and design options for the new front entryway and the school itself. Board members saw digital renderings of different entryway styles and roofing options in daylight and at dusk, which portrayed the lighting associated with each design.

Options for additions to the school’s allotted parking spaces, drawn up by Pennoni architects, also brought about discussion later in the meeting. Along with new air conditioning for the gymnasium, Sheppard said many of the projects are expected to start to take shape this summer.

“We’re fairly certain that all three projects will happen simultaneously and we’ll be very busy there,” she said.

She also made the board aware of a number of change orders for the new Warren County Middle School that, because of the relatively small cost involved, would not have needed the full board’s approval to progress. Some change orders have created cost savings, but expenses attributed to unsuitable soils have reached $182,117. Future costs for unsuitable soils could be around $75,000, but Sheppard said that phase is almost complete.

“At this point, our change orders are very nominal, very minimal,” she said.

Through a timeline drawn up from Shockey, Sheppard said later in the meeting that the foundation for the school could be completed by May.

The School Board will present its budget to the Warren County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning, not expecting a definitive answer on it yet. Besides these progress reports, the board will present its prioritized additional expenses in estimated figures, most notably those for a 3 percent raise for all employees at an estimated cost of $1,133,506 and other looming expenses in the hundreds of thousands.

Superintendent Greg Drescher reminded those assembled of the importance and backlog of those deferred costs, such as costs associated with replacing the tennis court in disrepair at Skyline High School or the schools’ outdated Internet equipment.

“The various switches and routers that we have in our buildings that run all of the Internet and all of the wireless are over 15 years old,” he said. “And when one of those breaks, technology doesn’t work.”

All at the work session agreed that without the 3 percent increase – the “cost of competing” – Warren County Schools would actually lose ground in the realm of staff pay when compared with surrounding counties, where teachers are demanding 2 to 4 percent pay increases.

Past that, $1.5 million to open the new middle school lies on the horizon for the 2017-2018 year, along with other necessary expenses.

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