New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | September 28, 2020

New Kent Board of Supervisors approve entering into bonding pools for school construction funds

By Andre Jones | September 9, 2020 1:17 am

New Kent’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved entering into two pools that could assist with borrowing money for the construction of a new elementary school.

County leaders approved entering into Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) bond process and a standalone bonding pool during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting. The only difference between the two pools are time guidelines that are imposed.

The general obligation school bonds approved by the board of supervisors will allow up to a $37 million dollar borrowing for the construction of a new elementary school in the Quinton area of the county. Entering into the bonding pool, however, is not a commitment to borrow the funds. County leaders at previous meetings have stated that they do not wish to borrow that amount of money.

During an Aug. 31 joint work session with school board members, discussion on the cost of the project rose to the forefront with District 5 Supervisor John Lockwood questioned the cost of the project. Lockwood used examples of similar size schools located in Chesterfield that are estimated between $24-26 million through his research.

Representatives of Mosely Engineering responded to the supervisor’s comments, saying that some companies build prototype schools and use similar plans when constructing them. District 5 and School Board Chairwoman chimed in by saying that community involvement was received when conceptualizing the project and that capping the project at a certain dollar amount would hamper those plans.

At the joint work session, Board of Supervisors’ Chairwoman Patricia Paige commented that the board would like to see the school board negotiate a lower cost, pointing to construction costs at an all-time low in comparison to when the original project was approved. Under state law, only the school board can negotiate costs with the developer and not the board of supervisors.

The board of supervisors has not currently committed to an amount of money they are willing to borrow as of this time. According to County Administrator Rodney Hathaway, he believes that the county could borrow $35 million without a needed tax increase for the project.

Both the school board and county leaders are expected to have another joint meeting to discuss the construction of the school. The board of supervisors will have additional discussion and a possible recommendation of a funding amount at its Sept. 30 work session.