Supervisors move forward: If not consolidated school, then elementary upgrades

On Monday morning at its July meeting, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors unanimously threw its support behind a series of recommendations made by the Budget and Finance Committee to apply for funding for the planned new middle-high school complex from the Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) during its fall round of funding.
Claudia Lundy, chair of the Joint Educational Committee made up of supervisors and school board trustees, reported that at a closed meeting held by the group recently, consultants had provided four possible sites for the new consolidated school complex. The sites will be compared and evaluated in time to provide recommendations on Sept. 1.
At a Budget and Finance Committee meeting held on Thursday evening, committee members heard from Ted Cole, senior vice president of public funding for Davenport and Company. Cole told the group that while looking into possible funding options for the numerous projects planned for Mecklenburg’s schools in the next few years, it could be to the county’s advantage to lock in part of that funding now to take advantage of the current interest rates.
Cole was also on hand for the full board of supervisors meeting on Monday to explain the proposal and answer any questions.
Cole repeated what he told committee members on Thursday evening, that financing through the VPSA provides more flexibility that other forms of financing and pointed out that Mecklenburg has taken advantage of VPSA funding for other projects through the years. He added that deciding to move forward with applying for funding today does not commit the county to anything and that Mecklenburg can withdraw its application at any time prior to the awarding of funds with no costs of penalties.
County Administrator Wayne Carter told the group that if the school board and the supervisors can agree to a site, the county can go ahead with the $50 million loan for the new school. If no agreement is reached, the county has the option of dropping the loan to the $30 million required to perform major upgrades and improvements to the elementary schools within the county.
Supervisor Dan Tanner said that although he wants to see the new middle-high school project be the first one on the list, the VPSA terms give the county the option to move ahead on either project.
Tanner made a motion to proceed on the application for funding through the VPSA’s fall round of funding. By unanimous vote, the supervisors approved the motion.
During the “Board Members Matters” segment of the meeting, Supervisor David Brankley, also a member of the Joint Educational Committee, told the group that supervisors and school board trustees have been working to select a site and move ahead.
“Ms. Lundy says they’re looking at four sites. We’re talking about borrowing $130 million in the next few years,” said Brankley. “I pray that we can all get together and don’t have a stumbling block. The consultants will bring back the information. I’m looking forward to us moving ahead.”
Lundy agreed, laughing that Brankley had said everything she was going to say.
Lundy also expressed her hope that everyone could come together and make the new school a reality for the county’s public school students.
Tanner also expressed his hope that the project will not be stalled.
“We’ve been working hard to keep on track,” said Tanner. “I’m looking forward to moving ahead.”
Also on Monday morning, members of the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to go along with a Budget and Finance Committee recommendation for the supervisors to loan the school board $1,331,562 at 2 percent interest for 15 years for the energy savings program for the school system.
The “in-house” loan will allow the project to move ahead quickly and save the schools high interest rates they would incur with outside financing.