Scott Worner

Interim director of secondary education Scott Worner provides information on repairing, renovating or replacing Halifax County High School to Halifax County School Board when they met Monday evening.

Repair. Renovate. Replacement.

Those are the three options still on the table for Halifax County High School as Halifax County School Board works with the Halifax County Board of Supervisors to decide the future of the high school.

Interim director of secondary education Scott Worner provided information on those three options to the school board when they met Monday evening with price tags ranging from $63 million to $107.3 million.

A repair, costing approximately $63 million, would replace HVAC and include interior repair, exterior repair and repairing existing operational equipment, according to Worner.

He said a repair would take an estimated 8 to 12 months to complete and would lower operational costs by $250,000 annually.

A renovation, costing approximately $73 million to $88 million depending on the extent of the project, would take 24 to 30 months, according to Worner. He also noted that price does not include the Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium.

A renovation would lower operational costs by $325,000 annually, he noted.

However, with a repair or renovation, he said the high school would still have 55 entrances, enclosed stairwells, seven levels, poor instructional design and the soil it sits on has been identified as “soft to medium stiff.”

A replacement of the high school would cost approximately $107.3 million, and “if done correctly and planned well,” would address all the issues at the high school.

He said a replacement of the school would lower operational costs by $450,000 annually.

When looking at life expectancy, he said, a repaired school would last 15 to 20 years while a renovated school would last 25 to 30 years and a rebuilt school would last 55 to 70 years.

The interim director of secondary education also said these figures would increase by approximately $5 million annually or nearly $415,000 monthly.

Calling it a “way of looking at a possibility,” Worner presented one way to pay for the high school while also addressing elementary schools down the road.

In November, the county passed a referendum that allowed for supervisors to implement a 1% sales tax incentive with funding allocated toward construction or renovation of local schools, which is set to go into affect in July.

Worner said that tax is expected to generate $100 million to $115 million between 2020 and 2050.

The school division’s debt service of $4.2 million is set to retire in 2027, and if the county allows for the school system to use that money, that would total $96.6 between 2028 and 2050.

With 30 years interest, the total of a new school would cost roughly $177.8 million, and Worner said the referendum should cover an estimated $100 million leaving a balance of $77.8 million.

He said that $77.8 million could be covered with the funds from the debt service leaving $18.8 million.

Worner said that $18.8 million could go towards the capital improvement plan needs for the elementary schools.

But, he stressed the board of supervisors controls the debt service.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg added, “The $4.2 million is not ours to dictate.”

Chairman Todd Moser said, “I do feel the board of supervisors have the majority of input. I feel as soon as the board of supervisors put together a committee, we need to sit down and discuss what to do next.”

The interim director of secondary education also noted that the presentation was not intended to sway the board in one way or another, but was for information purposes.

He said they plan to present the same information to the joint facility committee consisting of school board members and supervisors as well as to the public at town hall meetings.

Worner also said they plan to put a spot on the school’s website allowing for public input on the high school and plan to issue surveys.

The board did not take any action on the matter, but one school board member is firm on which way he’d like to see the decision go.

“I’ll be the first to go on record and say I’m not going to support a renovation or repair. I’m going to support a brand new school because I don’t want my kids out in those mobile units,” said ED-5 Trustee Freddie Edmunds.

Mobile classrooms would be needed for a repair or renovation of the high school for the students to use during construction, but if a new high school was built, students could stay in the current building until the new school is finished, according to Worner.

But Edmunds feels that would create a safety issue.

He also noted that a replacement of the high school is the only option that outlives the referendum, and with replacing the school, they could lock-in a guaranteed price through the PPEA option.

ED-2 Trustee Roy Keith Lloyd also raised safety concerns about using mobile classrooms and questioned how much they would cost.

Worner said he did not have a definite number because it is “situational” and would depend on a variety of factors.

ED-1 Trustee Kathy Fraley also voiced concerns about the lack of upkeep at the high school.

Regardless if they decide to renovate, repair or renovate, she questioned, “Will it be taken care of?”

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

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com