New Kent Charles City Chronicle

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

New Kent Board of Supervisors appropriate $35.5 million for new elementary school

By Andre Jones | November 12, 2020 9:58 pm

New Kent’s Board of Supervisors have put the final touches on solidifying funding for a new elementary school.

County leaders unanimously approved appropriating $35,593,691 to construct the school that will be located in Quinton during the board’s Nov. 12 regular meeting.

Dating back to 2014, talks about a new school arose after enrollment projections from Welden-Cooper expected a boom in New Kent, as it was ranked the second-fastest growing community in Virginia. Projection of the school back then was expected to be $28 million for the complex. That did not include cost for construction, permits, and other fees.

In early 2019, it was revealed that the new elementary school would be built across from the Quinton Community Center. Concept art of the project was revealed in Sept. 2019, with expectations that the project was to be completed by Sept. 2021.

But in March 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to impact New Kent County. At the March work session, District 4 representative Ron Stiers brought up the recommendation to delay the project by a year. Citing the uncertainty of finances and the duration of COVID-19, county leaders elected not to enter into a Spring pool for financing and elected to wait for the Fall pool.

Talks intensified between county leaders and members of the school board during an Aug. 31 joint work session over the status of the schools. With representatives from Mosely Engineering in attendance, a price tag that saw the new elementary school with a new price ranging from $35-37 million with inflation, both parties provided information through individual research and commentary. The board of supervisors asked school leaders to look into finding ways to lower the cost. The school board is the only entity allowed to negotiate the terms of a contract for construction of a new school according to state law, while the board of supervisors is the entity that appropriates funding for the facility.

Finally, at the Sept. 30 work session, county leaders approved entering into the Virginia Public School Authority’s (VPSA) bond agreement to borrow up to $26 million. During the work session, supervisors commented how both they and the school board worked to find a mutual agreement that include both sides sacrificing items to reduce the overall project price.

At Thursday night’s regular board of supervisors meeting, County Administrator Rodney Hathaway informed county leaders that they will borrow just over $22.5 million from the bond pool. With a contribution of $4 million from revenue through Colonial Downs. $8 million set aside from the school set aside fund, and additional revenue sources, the overall price tag arrived at the $35.6 million figure.

Stiers was pleased with the outcome of the negotiations and the process that resulted from years of work.

“We stashed $8 million over the last six years because we planned ahead,” the District 4 representative commented. “We were able to reduce the price of the school and through negotiations working with the school board, we are building this school without raising taxes.”

Groundbreaking for the new elementary school is expected to take place within a couple of months. The school is aiming to open its doors by the start of the FY2022-23 school year in Aug. 2022.