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W-JCC's acting superintendent recommends new band uniforms, buses and increased funds for LHS gym

Ryan McKinnon
Contact Reporterjmckinnon@vagazette.com

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg-James City County School Board will decide how to spend $3.4 million in leftover operational funds for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Acting Superintendent Olwen Herron recommends the funds go toward new band uniforms at all three high schools, six school buses and increased funding toward the auxiliary gym at Lafayette High School.

Included in the recommendation is $1.5 million toward the gym's construction and $500,000 toward value engineering and construction management. The $2 million is double what the district had projected spending when the Board of Supervisors approved the project in May.

When the James City County Board of Supervisors approved the construction of the gym in May, the projected cost was $2.5 million, with the county contributing $1.25 million, the school district contributing $1 million and Williamsburg paying the remaining $250,000.

W-JCC's Senior Director of Operations Marcellus Snipes said the district may need to increase the projected budget to include the costs of a new fire-suppression system and a road needed so rescue vehicles can access the new gym.

On Tuesday, board members questioned the high price of value engineering and construction management. Christina Berta, chief financial Officer, said administrators are taking a closer look at that number, and it is likely to change.

The funds came from $3.4 million left unspent in the 2015-16 fiscal year budget. The district spent 97.4 percent of its available funds this year, compared to 98.7 percent last year.

The district had budgeted $124.3 for the 2015-16 year, and when the fiscal year ended June 30 had obligated $121.1 of those funds.

Berta said $2.3 million of the savings came from attrition — when older employees with higher salaries and more costly benefits are replaced by younger employees at lower rates. The remaining savings came from reduced fuel costs and savings on utilities.

According to the fuel analysis website GasBuddy, diesel prices this year are about 24 cents lower per gallon than they were a year ago. Industry analyst Gregg Laskoski said W-JCC is not alone in seeing fuel savings.

The district also recommends returning $678,549 to the localities.

Berta said returning a portion of the funds to the Williamsburg and James City County is key to maintaining good working relations and to help pay for capital improvement projects.

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

Proposed year-end spending

These numbers were presented at W-JCC's board meeting Tuesday:

♦ New band uniforms: $120,000

♦Six new school buses: $650,000

♦ Lafayette auxiliary gym: $1.5 million

♦ Lafayette auxiliary gym value engineering and construction management: $500,000*

♦ Return to the city/county: $678,549

*Board members questioned the high cost for engineering and management. Berta said administrators were looking more closely at that number and it was likely to change.

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