Coronavirus having financial impact on funding new elementary school in New Kent
The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has already impacted school and government buildings. Now, its aim is now being directed at financial projects, including the construction of a new elementary school in New Kent.
New Kent Board of Supervisors converged at Wednesday’s morning work session to conduct county business. During the portion that addressed school bonds to assist with funding the project, supervisors received information that the Virginia Public School Authority bond process had set a deadline for April 2 to enter into a pool that assists with bonds. However, that deadline was extended to April 15, giving county leaders more time to consider the method of financing.
But before the latter date was announced, District 4 representative Ron Stiers talked about the unforeseeable economic impact of the county and the construction of the school.
“I know this isn’t going to be a popular decision, but I’d like to delay the school project for a year,” he said. “We don’t know what the market will look like in two weeks, two months, or eight months.”
Stiers commented on the combination of many businesses having to close or reduce hours due to the pandemic. He added that county citizens would have to bear the extra burden.
For District 1 representative Thomas Evelyn, he understood Stiers’ stance, echoing that time over the next two weeks would be crucial if the board of supervisors continue with the process to construct the school.
“In my 12 years on this board, I’ve been through hurricanes, tornados, and floods, but this is something I never dealt with before,” Evelyn commented. “With those disasters, it would be over and we could help each other up. Now, I can’t even help a neighbor get a tree out of the yard because I have to be six feet away from him.”
District 5 representative John Lockwood proposed tabling the issue for two weeks.
“I believe a decision like this doesn’t need to be rushed as we will need to take a look at the impact,” he said.
Supervisors agreed that the local economy will be impacted and they intend to be good stewards of taxpayer money. For now, they are continuing to heed advice to stay isolated during the pandemic.
“I want to thank the staff, emergency services, and everybody who is working hard to keep New Kent safe,” said District 3 and board chairwoman Patricia Paige. “Your selfless acts during this time where we are dealing with an unprecedented nature and something we do not completely understand is appreciated.”