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Capital dollars don't speed up school construction

April 19, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Board of Education can't speed up the construction schedule for some school projects because the county is providing less money than requested, Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee told the board during its work session Tuesday.

The six-year Capital Improvement Program budget, which the Washington County Commissioners tentatively adopted last week, gives the School Board $4.5 million annually in fiscal years 2002 through 2006.

The county is giving the School Board $4.15 million in the 2001 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The School Board had asked for $6.2 million in each of the next five years, McGee said.

Had the School Board received full funding for its capital program, renovation work at Salem Avenue and Maugansville elementary schools could have begun one or two years earlier than expected, he said.

Under the new funding level, construction is scheduled to start on the $7.6 million Salem Avenue project in 2003 and on the $8.5 million Maugansville project in 2004, he said.

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Although the School Board's request was not approved, members previously had been told to expect $3.5 million for years 2002-2006, McGee said.

That is not enough of an increase to speed up work on expensive projects such as Salem Avenue, but will enable roofing work at Marshall Street School and E. Russell Hicks Middle School to begin a year earlier than planned at a combined cost of about $735,000, according to McGee.

It also means about $1.1 million of work on Fountain Rock Elementary School can be done in 2002, including building a cafeteria and some portable classrooms, he said.

Fountain Rock Elementary is the only school in the district without a cafeteria, he said. Students have to eat lunches, which are prepared elsewhere, at their desks, he said.

School Board President Paul Bailey said the board is pleased with the funding increase.

"If we can sustain this, it will move us forward. It will not be at the pace we thought we would be able to move but it is a very positive and strong move in the right direction," Bailey said.

The County Commissioners don't adopt the entire annual budget, including the capital program, until later in the budget process. The $4.5 million amount probably won't change for at least the 2002 and 2003 fiscal years, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said later Tuesday.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, McGee said future construction project costs would be about 5 percent higher due to a state law requiring contractors to pay workers the prevailing wage on jobs for which the state is paying at least half the cost

On an $8 million project that could increase costs by $400,000, McGee said.

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