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Berkeley County Schools is reallocated money for renovation project

April 22, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Schools will be able to use $5.9 million in state funding it had received for the construction of two new schools to instead renovate Martinsburg North Middle School.

The grant award of the reallocated funding was decided Monday by the West Virginia School Building Authority at the agency’s quarterly meeting in Charleston, W.Va.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said he was pleased that the state allowed the reallocation of funds previously awarded for Spring Mills High School and Gerrardstown Area Middle School to the Martinsburg project.

“We have always come in on time and under budget,” Arvon said of the school district’s performance on capital improvement projects in the last 15 years. The Gerrardstown middle school will be the county’s 10th new school in Arvon’s tenure.

Arvon attributed favorable bid results for construction of Spring Mills High School and Gerrardstown Area Middle School as well as the construction management of Don Zepp for allowing county school officials to return $6.9 million in funding that the state previously awarded for the two new schools.

Costs also have been contained through the structuring of bid packages, school design and great contractor performance, Arvon said.

“We keep change orders to a minimum,” Arvon said. “I think we do our homework (and) Don Zepp stays on top of the project(s).”

Zepp is construction manager for the school system.

Bids totaling $8.1 million for the renovation of the north Martinsburg school were awarded last week by the Berkeley County Board of Education, contingent upon the school building authority’s decision to allow the county to essentially keep $5.9 million of the $6.9 million it returned to the state.

Arvon said school building authority member Tom Lange’s role in netting the renovation project money for Berkeley County was “paramount.

“Without his efforts, I don’t think this would have happened,” said Arvon, who lauded Lange’s support on previous requests.

The county has committed $4.3 million in local funds toward the Martinsburg middle school project to expand the gymnasium and cafeteria, remove asbestos tile and make classroom improvements. General utility upgrades also will be completed, according to Berkeley County’s proposal.

The renovation project is expected to take 18 months to complete and school administrators have a plan to use an already completed 20-classroom addition at North Middle to keep students away from renovation work, Arvon said. The addition was completed in August 2012 with $4.8 million in local funds.

Arvon has said he hopes the renovation can begin at the end of the current school year.

The renovation is the last project being financed in part by a $51.5 million bond issue that Berkeley County voters approved in 2009.

In separate action Monday, the school building authority also awarded a “3 percent” regional grant of $380,436 to James Rumsey Technical Institute in Hedgesville, W.Va., for improvements to windows, exterior doors and overhead panels.

The project is to address mold and mildew concerns around existing windows and increase the school’s heating and cooling efficiency, according to documents posted on the school building authority’s website.

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