School Board gets update on construction, budget

FRONT ROYAL – Some Warren County Public School teachers will be gearing up for a very busy end of the 2016-2017 school year.

School Board members reviewed the progress and plans for Ressie Jeffries Elementary School and the new Warren County Middle School at a meeting on Wednesday.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard said that the schools are working with Moseley Architects to start at the school around July instead of August. Work on the entryway will last several months, while the roof will take more than a year of non-disruptive labor to complete.

Sheppard said the 20 new parking spaces that Pennoni will install in the front of the school will most likely be reserved for visitors. There will be around 60 more spaces around the side of the building.

She also spoke more about a new playground that will be installed at a new location near the school. The schools will soon begin working on designs with the PTO and the Board of Supervisors. She said the PTO would be fundraising to pay for the new equipment.

This summer, she said Ressie will receive new HVAC systems in the gymnasium as part of a project with Ameresco. Next summer, workers will close off the school to complete the rest of the work. She said the company has assured completion in that timeframe.

“The day that school is out, they’ll move in and we will be able to get back in that building when it’s time for teachers to come back,” she said.

Teachers will store their classroom material in the gymnasium, a process Sheppard said the schools have used before. In preparation for moving to the new middle school, those teachers will be doing the same thing. Sheppard said that construction of the new school is on time.

Superintendent Greg Drescher told board members that County Supervisor Doug Stanley has brought the $683,215 county appropriation figure to the Board of Supervisors during budget talks.

As opposed to the $1,725,685 that the schools initially sought out, the lower figure would not include the costs of a salary scale step increase or support costs for aging systems. Those plans do include some required costs and a 3 percent salary increase for school staff.

On the state level, Drescher said, almost $300,000 that was factored into the budget to add required elementary school positions might not bear that requirement. However, he said there may be other strings attached to the use of that money.

“We may not have wanted to do that because of some other priorities at this point and time,” he said of the positions.

Later in the meeting, board member James Wells suggested the School Board draw up a list of priorities to submit to the Board of Supervisors in case money becomes available further down the road.

“I’d prefer that we have a priority list of what we would use it for, what would be next in line,” he said. “It lends a little veracity to what we’re asking for.”

Drescher also gave board members insight to the individual impact of a 19.7 percent increase to health insurance costs on take-home pay in the future. To avoid landing some staff with blows to their own budget, he suggested considering encouraging higher-deductible plans with a health savings plan.

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