Rockbridge school board requests $23 million for consolidation

Rockbridge and Maury River Middle schools would be combined into one school, located at the current Maury River Middle School site. (The Rockbridge Report)

Consolidation of Rockbridge County’s two middle schools appears to be one step closer.

The county school board voted unanimously Monday night to ask for $23 million  from the Board of Supervisors to cover the cost of merging the schools. If approved, funding for the consolidation would be paid for through a municipal bond issued by the Board of Supervisors.

“It means we’re asking for money, “ said Rockbridge County School Superintendent John Reynolds. “It obviously doesn’t mean it’s going to get funded.”

The $23 million includes all expenses related to the consolidation of the schools.

The school board noted that $7.5 million of the $23 million had already been allocated to the consolidation project through a federally subsidized Qualified School Construction Bond. The board received the grant to renovate the schools from the Virginia Department of Education in early March.

“It’s important that we understand the approval of this bond means as a board we will be endorsing the idea of a one-middle school concept,” Reynolds said prior to the vote.

The decision comes after almost six months of talk surrounding the proposed consolidation. It  would combine Rockbridge Middle School and Maury River Middle School into one school at the current Maury River Middle School site.

The school board decided to explore consolidating the two schools in December to reduce maintenance and renovation costs. It hired Spectrum Design, an engineering and architectural company,  to evaluate the schools and create the most cost-effective plan to keep both schools up to standards. Spectrum reported consolidation would save approximately $750,000 annually for the school system.

The board revealed Spectrum’s consolidation project at a meeting on Jan. 24.

The board held a public hearing last week on the potential consolidation. Few people raised substantive concerns.  The board  also met with Spectrum on Friday to review consolidation plans before creating the resolution to be sent to the Board of Supervisors.

If the Board of Supervisors approves the bond proposal, the school board projects that renovations will be finished by July 2013, so the new Maury River Middle School could open for students that August

“We’re on a timeline, and we want to be prepared to do this right,” Reynolds said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Coverage of the Consolidation

March 31, 2011- Few attend Rockbridge meeting
on school consolidation

March 10, 2011- State approves $7.5 million
for county middle school renovations

Feb. 10, 2011- Proposed middle school consolidation raises another issue: travel time

Feb. 3, 2011- New report finds savings in consolidation of two middle schools

Dec. 9, 2010- Superintendent Reynolds
cites budget concerns as a reason
for middle schools' consolidation

Feb. 18, 2010- Two county schools
in danger of closing

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