Three months after Halifax County residents signed off on a referendum that allows a 1% sales tax to go toward construction of schools and after more than a year of debating the future of Halifax County High School, a joint facilities committee is set to meet at 2 p.m. Friday in the School Board Conference Room to discuss what’s next.
Serving on the joint facilities committee are three school board members: vice chairman Sandra Garner Coleman, ED-2 trustee Roy Keith Lloyd, and after Monday’s monthly meeting, ED-4 trustee Jay Camp.
Coleman nominated Camp for the position due to his financial background, and the board unanimously agreed to the appointment.
Members of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors appointed ED-5 supervisor Dean Throckmorton, ED-1 supervisor Ricky Short and ED-8 supervisor William Bryant Claiborne to serve on the joint facilities committee.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg stressed Monday evening that this meeting is open to the public.
Following introductions Friday, interim finance director Scott Worner is slated to give a high school facilities presentation.
He gave a presentation last month to the school board of the three options for the high school — repair, renovate or rebuild — with price tags ranging from $63 million to $107.3 million.
He, along with Lineburg and Halifax County Administrator Scott Simpson, plan to review options for paying for the school, upcoming community meetings and other future meetings.
Simpson is expected to lead a discussion on Davenport financial projection, and Lineburg is slated to discuss House Bill 1633.
Introduced by Delegate James Edmunds, House Bill 1633 “requires the Board of Education to establish a program to use Literary Fund proceeds to subsidize interest payments on certain loans made by the Virginia Public School Authority to local governing bodies and school boards for the design and construction of new school buildings and facilities or the modernization and maintenance of existing school buildings and facilities as follows: for school divisions in localities determined to have above-average or high fiscal stress by the Commission on Local Government in its most recent version of such report, the Board shall subsidize up to 100 % of the interest due on such loan.
“Under current law, eligibility for such interest rate subsidy payment is based on the local composite index of ability to pay,” according to Virginia’s Legislative Information System.
They also plan to discuss a comprehensive approach to facilities and PPEA, Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act.
Back in the fall, the facilities review committee had received PPEAs from English Construction partnered with Grimm + Parker and Branch Builds coupled with RRMM Architects for possible design and build of the high school.
In addition to visiting schools that had been constructed by those companies, the committee also was tasked with preparing a detailed stage PPEA by the end of September.
It had previously been reported that the committee was expected to recommend a firm to the school board in the fall, but they have not done so.
In the meantime, the board put down $4,000 on 12 acres of property adjoining the high school in December.
By putting down this payment, Worner said it removes the current property listing from the market for a period of 120 days allowing the school district time to solicit feedback from community stakeholders and review by the joint sub-committee for school planning regarding the merits of repair, renovation or replacement of the high school.
This additional property would supplant space for new construction, provide options to necessitate required parking/bus lots and/or trailer space should the high school be renovated, said Worner.
Funding for the down payment is being derived from residual proposal review fees paid by the two unsolicited PPEA proposals submitted, according to Worner.
During discussion of Friday’s meeting, ED-8 Trustee Walter Potts asked would this committee bring a report back to the full board and questioned how often they would report.
Chairman Todd Moser said those specifics had not been determined, but he along with Coleman said the committee would report back, and Coleman invited Potts to attend the committee meeting.
Potts also said he wanted to make supervisors aware that it costs an additional $500,000 every month that they put off making a decision.
The chairman suggested Potts tell his representative on the board of supervisors.
The vice chairman also told Potts she anticipates this committee to move quickly.
The ED-8 trustee also wanted supervisors to know that the school board would not wait for HB 1633 to make a decision on the high school.
“I want them to understand that,” he added.