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Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Boards will discuss costly school projects

School funding for capital projects and direct services could go toward RLE

The King George Board of Supervisors last week settled on four agenda items for discussion at next week’s joint meeting with the School Board.

Those items were suggested by the School Board could add up to millions of dollars more to be spent by the county to fund for schools.

But before more capital projects are approved for the school division, it was agreed at last week’s supervisor meeting that how funding is provided by the county will be given another look

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RLE SHOULD REFLECT COST OF SERVICES PROVIDED BY COUNTY   

Last November 2009, supervisors were provided with a memo from an education finance analyst with the Virginia Department of Education that had been sent to division officials.

That memo instructed localities on how to handle costs for in-kind services and for direct purchases, stating, “In order for costs of this nature to qualify, the local governing body should appropriate the funds to the school board, which can then pay the local governing body for the good or service.”

That process would ensure that all costs that are paid by the locality for the school division are counted as part of the “required local effort (RLE).”

The RLE amount is set by the state for each locality from a formula that includes all types of expenses properly and typically incurred in running a school division. 

In addition to purchases of equipment and furniture, other items that King George should included could also be costs for financial accounting services, audits, local costs for two Sheriff’s deputies at the middle and high school and some grounds maintenance and grass cutting that is currently taking place.

That topic was brought up at last week’s meeting by Supervisor Joe Grzeika and he requested that the funding process be reviewed for how the school capital projects are billed.  That might result in those funds being appropriated to the School Board and then deducted back to the county to pay for the purchases.

The topic arose during review of an action item containing bills for $8,750 toward the Potomac study and $11,654.18 for furniture and fixtures for the new high school. 

Grzeika suggested, “I think it needs to be a transfer in-and-out through the schools so we get credit for putting that money out. A lot of times we don’t. We put a lot of money out that doesn’t ever end up on the school ledger.”

It’s also not clear why the county is still buying items for use at the high school, which was opened nearly a year and a half ago, in February 2009.

JOINT MEETING AGENDA   

Also at last week’s board meeting, Chairman Dale Sisson said he wanted to finalize an agenda for next Tuesday’s joint meeting prior to meeting with the School Board on Aug. 3.

At the last joint meeting on April 6, officials had all agreed to next discuss combining grass cutting and grounds maintenance under the county to save costs through incorporating efficiencies in personnel and equipment and to also get cost estimates to combine health insurance plans.

While a report on cost estimates for combining health insurance is on the agenda, consolidating other services is not.

Those topics have gone by the wayside.

But grounds maintenance may be the elephant in the meeting room, since the School Board admits to neglecting routine maintenance of its Hunter Field football stadium until this past spring when they were told that football and soccer officials had safety concerns about the field, primarily due to neglect of the grass on the playing field.

Some are wondering how the division administration would handle maintenance on a new stadium field if that project goes forward. Whether natural grass or synthetic turf is installed, both need routine maintenance for upkeep.

POTOMAC ELEMENTARY RENOVATIONS   

The first topic on the joint agenda is a presentation from a consultant to provide the results of a study regarding renovations that could be done at Potomac Elementary School.

This will be the first time that supervisors will be getting a presentation and there has been no public discussion by them about what’s next for Potomac. 

But Travis Quesenberry, county administrator, noted a couple months ago that the estimate could be more than $5 million for renovations and has recently suggested it could go as high as $7 million.

NEW STADIUM PROJECT   

A discussion of a proposed high school stadium project is also on the agenda.

That project is currently being estimated at $3,332,000 and expected to spawn interesting discussion.

That’s because two members of the School Board, Renee Parker and Rick Randall, last week stated during a meeting they were in favor of a new stadium being dedicated to use only by the school division.

Supervisors hadn’t heard about those opinions when the draft agenda was discussed on July 20, so it’s not known how members of the county board will view that idea, if the two School Board members haven’t changed their minds by next week’s joint session.

A related topic from the School Board on the joint meeting agenda is to also talk about the county constructing one or more connecting roads from King George High School to King George Middle School next door.

There could also be talk about another road proposed to go between the high school and the former middle school building, which was mothballed in June 2009. That relates to the next agenda item.

OLD KING GEORGE MIDDLE SCHOOL   

The former middle school building is on the agenda for discussion. 

It’s not clear what the School Board will tell Supervisors about that building. 

When they talked about it last week on July 19, they could not decide and members alternately mentioned using it as an intermediate school, school board offices, early childhood education program and as an elementary school. 

Regardless of how it might be utilized in the future, the School Board says it needs a new heating-ventilation-and-cooling system and a new well.

Those items have been estimated at $1.6 million and $140,475 respectively.

The School Board also has a capital request for an addition of an unspecified size to the building.  No cost estimate is provided for that project. 

Supervisors have been reluctant to fund these capital projects until the School Board provides a firm decision on how it will be used and a when.

Phyllis Cook

Staff reporter

 

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