Halifax County Board of Supervisors wants a second opinion when it comes to plans for a new Halifax County High School, and they made that opinion clear during Monday night’s board meeting.
Supervisors told School Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg and Interim Deputy Superintendent of Budget, Finance and Operations Robert L. Aylor they were uncomfortable with the results of a study conducted by Moseley Architects that estimated the cost of a new Halifax County High School at $100 million and a renovated high school at $80 million.
Lineburg and Aylor were on the agenda to request approval for the school board to make an application to be placed on the approved application list for Literary Fund Loan program assistance to build a new high school.
Supervisors instead redirected the discussion to ask for a new study, with ED-1 Supervisor J.T. Davis suggesting Lineburg “look at other options.
“I’m looking at other options, and I’m hoping you are looking at other options as well,” Davis said.
“I’m uncomfortable talking about a new school,” added Davis, noting he had seen an estimated cost for a new high school at $60 million as recently as two years ago. “I’m not comfortable signing anything locking me in with endorsing a new high school.”
Lineburg told supervisors doing nothing is not an option, and he added the school board had thoroughly studied the issue and vetted several options before charging Moseley Architects with doing the study.
“With a project of $100 million, it’s hard for this board not to think we need a second opinion,” added ED-4 Supervisor Dennis Witt.
When answering a question from ED-8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne concerning whether the school board had considered a second opinion, Lineburg said, “No,” but he added the price is “certainly debatable. We had as clean a process as we could, and that’s the price they (Moseley) came up with.”
Claiborne told Lineburg he wanted a school that would not require renovation in 20 years but one that would stand the test of time, considering the amount of money estimated to build the new high school.
ED-2 Supervisor Jeffrey Francisco made the motion for an independent study costing no more than $125,000 for an independent evaluation of the costs for a renovated or new high school.
Claiborne provided a second to the motion that passed unanimously.
“That’s pennies on the dollar when considering $100 million,” said ED-6 Supervisor Stanley Brandon.
Lineburg said again on Tuesday the issue had been thoroughly vetted before an architect was selected.
“We have a referendum coming up in November, and the reality of it is this, if the referendum doesn’t go through, you’d spend a minimum of $35-$40 million,” said Lineburg on Thursday.
“That’s what you will spend anyway, so if you don’t get the referendum, you’ll band aid the school for $35-$40 million, and then in seven or eight years, the same issues will surface again,” he added. “Sixty million in 2016 was probably just a guess then, and we should have done it then. The longer we wait, the more it will cost. We have to get it right for the community.
“If another study helps get it right, that’s okay, but we just have to have a plan in the days and weeks ahead, and I think we’ll get there,” the superintendent continued. “Supervisors have our best interests at heart, and we’re trying everything we can and are lobbying as hard as we can for the sales tax to make things as comfortable as we can for everyone in the county. We’ll work our way through it to make it as reasonable as we can.”
On a motion by ED-3 Supervisor Hubert Pannell and a second from Claiborne, supervisors also unanimously adopted a resolution at Monday’s meeting authorizing the school board to make an application to be placed on the approved application list for Literary Fund Loan program assistance to build a new high school.