School Board talks construction

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Suffolk School Board could vote as early as Thursday on a plan that would set priorities for school construction for the next 10 years.

A little more than a week after the Suffolk School Board discussed its priorities for the capital improvements plan this year, the board is scheduled to vote on the plan for fiscal years 2010-11 through 2019-20.

Last Wednesday, the school board came together for a work session in order to discuss the plan and the various projects that need upgrading.

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At the September School Board Meeting, School Board members received copies of the plan created by the Capital Improvements Plan Study Committee, which identified a replacement school for Southwestern and Robertson Elementary Schools as the school district’s number one priority.

Fifteen other projects, including renovating nine schools, closing two and building a new middle and high school were also identified in the document.

At its work session, the board voted to go along with the recommendations given by the Capital Improvements Plan Study Committee. Members named the development of a new middle school in North Suffolk as the school system’s second priority and the construction of a new operations facility for the school system the third priority.

Board member Michael Debranski said building a middle school in North Suffolk to alleviate the overcrowding at John Yeates Middle School is of immediate concern for the board.

“I think that’s an area that needs to be addressed shortly,” Debranski said.

Board member Enoch Copeland agreed.

“If we need a middle school in the Northern area of the city, then we need it now, not six, seven, eight years from now, but now,” he said.

The vote is scheduled for the board’s monthly meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the City Council Chambers. But it could be postponed.

While the committee’s report was thorough, School Superintendent Milton Liverman said, members made the decision not to include cost projections in the report because those projections would depend on the locations chosen and when the project begins.

Administrative staff still needs to look at realistic budgeting and economic breakdowns for these projects, and those breakdowns might not be ready by Thursday night.