School Board to vote on CIP at Tuesday meeting

On Tuesday, the Williamsburg-James City County School Board is expected to vote on the fiscal year 2018-27 Capital Improvement Plan with funding requests totaling nearly $100 million dollars over those 10 years.

Before it can be implemented and added to next year's budget, the plan must also be approved by the county and city, both of which fund the school division. If the school board members pass the CIP Dec. 13, it will move on to both of the funding bodies for review before a final version is available in May.

The plan calls for $22.6 million for the nine elementary schools, $5.8 million for the three existing middle schools, and $14.3 million for high school projects, not including the planned high school expansion. The other portion of requests come from division-wide projects and new construction, together adding up to $56.5 million.

"Our responsibility is to ask for what we identify as a need as a division," WJCC Chief Financial Officer Christina Berta said. "Our job is to address our needs and then we pass on to our funding partners."

Most of the projects in the plan are maintenance, like replacing HVAC systems or windows, or repairing roofs or floors. One contentious item, a walkway that connects Lafayette High School to the Warhill Sports Complex, was removed from the plan in October.

Another item that has raised questions is the expansion of Jamestown High School in FY 2019, and of the other two high schools in 2022. Jay Everson, the only community member who spoke at the board's Nov. 15 public hearing on the CIP, questioned whether the high school expansions were warranted.

The 2022 expansion is slated to cost upwards of $17.4 million, while the 2019 Jamestown expansion is written in for $2 million.

The plan calls for the high school expansions because of capacity constraints. According to the most recent enrollment projections for WJCC, presented to the board in November, the division is expected to continue adding students at every level.

Changes to Jamestown include expanding the cafeteria by enclosing the courtyard adjacent to it and increasing the core space of the building — which could mean additional classrooms, labs or commons space.

"Currently the cafeteria is crowded given current enrollment, it's an enclosed space and there's not much room to move," Overkamp-Smith said in November. "Expansions to the core space would depend on funding and scope."

More room in the cafeteria would not translate to a higher capacity limit for the high school, only increasing core space would, according to Overkamp-Smith. The increase would depend on how much funding the project receives and the design approved by the board.

The possible high school expansion is scheduled in the middle of the division's current school addition, the controversial fourth middle school. Phase two of that project is included in the CIP for 2025 and 2026, with projected costs hovering around $17.5 million.

Vice chairwoman Kyra Cook said she is content with the plan as is. Echoing Berta, she said their job is to request funding for projects they deem as necessary.

"It's safety, it's maintenance, it's ADA," Cook said.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

On the agenda Dec. 13:

Closed meeting at 5: 30 p.m. at the Stryker Center in Williamsburg to discuss personnel issues

Open meeting: 6:30 p.m. at the Stryker Center in Williamsburg

Superintendent Search: The consultants hired from superintendent search firm BWP will present information on the two forums, targeted meetings, and online survey collecting community input on what people want in the division's next superintendent.

FY 2016 audit report: Representatives from Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP will present their audit of WJCC's use of governmental and student activity funds for fiscal year 2016.

Lafayette Auxiliary Gym: The board will hear a progress update on the auxiliary gym design for Lafayette High School from a representative from Hargrove, Brockwell & Associates, the firm awarded the design contract in July.

Equity presentation: WJCC Supervisor of Early Childhood Education Renee Dino will give the second in a series of presentations to the board on equity in the school division. She will discuss the Bright Beginnings program including outcome data.

School start times: Earlier in the year, board members asked for more information on school start times and members of the central office staff will present it.

Capital Improvement Plan: Toward the end of the meeting the board is expected to vote on the 2018-27 WJCC Capital Improvement Plan to then pass on to the city and county for approval and funding.

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