The Alexandria City School Board voted on Thursday night to add $46 million to the Capital Improvement Program Budget for FY 2018-27 to fund the purchase and retrofit of office space to be used as temporary swing space accommodating staff and students during the modernization program of other school buildings.
The School Board was compelled to ask for the additional money to fully fund the modernization program, which addresses Alexandria’s aging and crowded school buildings. Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley had proposed that the Lee Center, a former ACPS school in Old Town that was returned to the City in the 1970s at a time when the City was seeing falling enrollment, be used as swing space at a much lower cost to taxpayers of $9 million. However, at the time the CIP was approved, the City could not commit to allowing the schools access to use of the Lee Center.
The total cost of purchasing and retrofitting an office building would be in the region of $55,370,700. If a swing space solution cannot be reached this budget season, the School Board may also have to consider extending the modernization timeline to accommodate the time needed to find the office space suitable to use for swing space. This would push back the modernization program for the four elementary schools scheduled for the next ten years.
The School Board is hoping that by the close of the City budget process the analysis for adding on to the Lee Center will lead to a less expensive option. However, without that analysis, the alternative options for swing space are very expensive and put our future projects at risk. We are willing to admit that this is not ideal, but the School Board is tasked with expressing our needs to the City Council and, together, I am optimistic that we can find a responsible fiscal solution to support the success of all of our students,” said School Board Chair Karen Graf.
The School Board also approved the addition of $32.8 million for the acquisition of two parcels of land – one for an elementary school and one for a middle school – and added $27.6 million to make the second pre-K center a separate project. With the additional swing space funds, this brings the total CIP Budget for 2018-27 to $611.1 million, including $89.7 million in FY 2018.
The Capital Improvement Program for the next ten years includes a new elementary school, new middle school and new high school building and fully addresses ACPS seating capacity needs by 2027.
The Alexandria community needs to see just what we need to solve all of ACPS’ capacity issues within the next ten years and beyond. There is no doubt that this is a dynamic and aggressive plan that can only be achieved with the support of our community and City Council. We all need to work together to create school facilities that foster vibrant learning, equitable access to academic programming, and a strong foundation for our community,” Superintendent Crawley said.
The modernization of George Mason Elementary School has also been moved up in the add/delete sessions for the CIP. The design work will begin in 2021 and the building will be finished in time for the fall of 2023. Renovation of Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology would begin in 2022 and be finished in time for the start of the school year in 2024. Matthew Maury Elementary School will also move up in the modernization timeline by two years and be ready for the fall of 2025.
William Ramsay will get funding for new playground equipment in 2018, while $350,000 was added to the cost of the T.C. Williams High School Stadium Project for fencing around the perimeter of the field.
The School Board also approved an additional $100,000 for secondary school project planning. This was taken from the design funds allocated for 2019 in order to begin assessing the feasibility of the new high school building project in 2017-18. The secondary planning process would start in September 2018 with the formation of an internal work group that would create a process of engagement, review recommendations from the feasibility study, School Day Committee and Long Range Education Facilities Planning documents.
Below is a full list of the changes made to the CIP during the add/delete process. Based on feedback during the add/delete work sessions, including a review of items for co-sponsorship and Superintendent recommended adjustments, the School Board reached consensus on the following actions:
- Added second Pre-K center as a separate line item at a cost of $27.6 million (FY 2024: $4.6 million; FY 2025: $23 million). Staff will conduct a review to determine feasibility of a separate site or option to co-locate at a site to be determined.
- Revised modernization schedule for Cora Kelly and George Mason. George Mason modernization would take place during FY 2021-22 and the Cora Kelly modernization would occur in FY 2022-23. This recommendation also removes the funding for co-location of pre-K at Cora Kelly. Funding for the Cora Kelly project changed to a total of $28.6 million (FY 2022: $4.8 million, FY 2023: $23.8 million) and the George Mason project changed to $39.9 million (FY 2021: $6.6 million, FY 2022: $33.2 million). Funding was added to replace the full roof at Cora Kelly as well.
- Revised Matthew Maury modernization timeline from FY 2025-2026 to FY 2023-2024.
- Added $46 million for swing space in FY 2018 to fund the purchase of developed land to accommodate students and staff impacted by complete building modernizations.
- Added $115,000 in FY 2018 to William Ramsay non-capacity line item to accommodate cost of playground equipment.
- Removed the line item of T.C. Williams generator in the amount of $172,700 as it is no longer needed.
- Added funds for painting based on current need and life-cycle schedule.
- Added $350,000 to T.C. Williams stadium cost for fencing around the perimeter of the field.
- The funding for Matthew Maury is increased by $1.9 million in FY 2023 and $3.8 million in FY 2024 to reflect the correct soft costs and inflation costs.
- After a reassessment of relocatable needs, capacity relocatable funding is decreased by $2.3 million in FY 2018.
Additional adjustments in the Superintendent’s Proposed FY2018-2027 CIP include the following:
- Added $100,000 in FY 2018 for secondary school project planning, funds were drawn down from the FY 2019 $19.8 million high school line item for design and other soft costs. The secondary planning process would start in September 2018 with the formation of an internal work group that would create a process of engagement, review recommendations from the feasibility study, School Day Committee and Long Range Education Facilities Planning documents.
- Added $15 million in FY 2018 for land acquisition.
- Added $17.8 million in FY 2025 for land acquisition.
- Changed language in the FY 2018-2027 CIP book to reflect a commitment to develop a high quality pre-k model that accommodates up to 360 students versus stand-alone Pre-K Center.
- Established a painting schedule and funding for facilities that are not in the modernization program or were recently constructed.