HCHS

Monday at 2 p.m. was the deadline for architectural and engineering proposals to be submitted, and Grimm + Parker Architects and English Construction slid theirs in just in time to be considered for the new design and build of Halifax County High School.

Dr. Scott Worner, interim supervisor of secondary education, said the company submitted its proposal Monday morning.

Grimm + Parker previously had submitted a proposal on its own along with Moseley Architects and RRMM Architects who were selected by a facilities review committee to be interviewed out of seven architectural firms who submitted proposals.

Around the same time, Branch Builds, who paid a $10,000 fee to the school division to have its package considered, joined forces with RRMM Architects to submit its proposal, which was accepted. Branch Builds renovated the middle school here 12 years ago.

Moseley Architects is the firm that conducted the study of the current high school for the school board before estimating it would cost $88 million to renovate and upgrade the high school and $99 million to build a new facility.

With English Construction now teaming up with Grimm + Parker with their own proposal, Worner said the facilities review committee is expected to meet within the next 10 days to hear a presentation from the companies.

The Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act of 2002 “enables public bodies to partner with private entities to bring private sector expertise to bear on public projects and encourage innovative approaches to financing construction and renovation.”

The board approved PPEA guidelines in December.

After reviewing English Construction and Grimm + Parker’s proposal, Worner said the committee then will recommend an architectural firm or construction/architectural firm from the PPEA pool to the school board.

Once a firm as been selected, the site will then be confirmed, stakeholder’s input will be compiled for the development of the conceptual design, and a timeline for construction will be developed.

Worner explained much work is being done behind the scenes such as deciding the best space configurations.

He said building a school that can optimize its lifespan, “takes good solid planning. The last thing we want to do is build a school without any thought to it.”

So for now, he said they’re working to determine logistics such as where will the office go, the structure of the hallways, where to put the loading dock for the cafeteria and so forth.

“The design process must consider all aspects of the school division’s needs, building code regulations and financial constrictions,” he said. “Specific facility construction costs will be developed from this work, which will allow for appropriate funding strategies. A final school facility design will be presented to the Halifax County School Board once funding for the project has been secured.”

Hurt & Proffitt also has “rigorously researched” soil conditions and ground water presence to make certain of where a new high school should be placed. It had previously been suggested by Moseley Architects that the school could be placed next to where the current school sits.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg has noted a sense of urgency for the board to select a builder in time for a plan to be presented to voters in November when a referendum will be held on whether to approve a 1-cent local sales tax that can be used to upgrade the high school.

Before the referendum can be on the ballot, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors must request through a resolution that the sales tax referendum be placed on the ballot.

“Team Halifax,” a mix of community, business and elected leaders, are “spearheading a movement towards educating the public to the importance of this project with the goal of overwhelming support by Halifax County voters for a sales tax referendum,” Worner explained.

Chairman Joe Gasperini said it’s important the board members have this project defined for the voters.

Gasperini said he feels “if it’s more clear, then the public will be more likely to say yes.”

Sandra Garner-Coleman, board vice-chair, agreed saying in her experience, once a person is explained the project, they typically understand the need for a new high school.

Lineburg said he is “internally optimistic” abut the passing of the sales tax initiative.

“We will have a compelling argument,” he added.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com