Chesterfield County school officials are considering a hybrid five-year capital improvement plan that would balance facility needs with the best use of funding.
Two versions of the 2014-2018 CIP were unveiled to the School Board on Monday afternoon with a debt service difference of $167 million, and the likely scenario is that the board will meet somewhere in the middle.
One plan calls for the full revitalization of 10 current schools and the construction of a new elementary school during the five-year period and comes with the total price of $341.1 million, including debt service of $298.6 million.
A scaled-back plan, built on existing funding for the same time frame, renovates seven schools — three could be added if the board chooses — and builds a new one for a budget of $174.1 million with a debt service of $131.6 million.
Budgets for each of the projects were determined in consultation with the architectural firm Moseley Architects, which designed the new Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield and Glen Allen High School in Henrico County.
The more expensive option falls in line with the county's recently adopted comprehensive plan, which defines revitalization as the full modernization of the facility while enhancing the overall learning environment.
Funding is not currently available for the more-extensive renovation projects, said David Myers, the assistant superintendent of budget and finance.
"This is something that has got to be a joint effort between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors with regard to moving forward with the plan," Myers said.
Before the five-member board adopts its five-year capital plan next year as part of the budget process, members will tour each of the identified 10 schools with an architect to see what improvements could be made at what cost and what the result would be for teachers, students and the community.
For example, one plan has a budget of $24 million for renovations at Beulah Elementary School, while the scaled-back plan has a budget of $11 million.
"For $24 million, what are you going to give me, and for $11 million, what are you going to give me?" said Bermuda District Representative Carrie E. Coyner. "Then ask the question: Which of those meets our needs or is it somewhere in between? From there, I think we truly figure out where our needs are and … determine our priorities."
After the assessments, the board will chose which projects to do, at what cost and in what order. A final decision will ultimately come down to funding, but until then, noted School Board Chairwoman Patricia M. Carpenter, the board is in a holding pattern.
When it comes down to a vote, the School Board may not have much room to drastically reduce the budgets for the identified projects. School Superintendent Marcus J. Newsome is in preliminary discussions with county staff about the proposed projects.
"I feel like they made it clear to us that the Board of Supervisors have determined that this is worthy … for us to pursue," said Newsome, who noted that a lot of work remains to determine what is the right design for the schools. "When we talk about one option versus the other, I get the sense staff is suggesting that we try to pursue what is in the comprehensive plan."