City seeks proposals for school facility study

Published 11:00 pm Friday, August 16, 2019

The city is in the process of soliciting proposals to assess Suffolk Public Schools facilities, capacity use and attendance boundaries.

City Manager Patrick Roberts said at a joint meeting of the School Board and City Council in July that the result of the study would be “a long-term comprehensive plan that prioritizes school facility needs.”

The study “will need to consider population growth, long-term attendance zones, maintenance and modernization of existing facilities and the efficient use of existing facilities,” according to the proposal request.

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The school division has 24 buildings and facilities and serves about 14,200 students in grades kindergarten through 12 while employing about 2,000 teachers, administrators and support personnel. The study asks that all of the school division’s buildings be assessed for current and future needs, and determine whether they are, or will be, functional.

The review of the division’s attendance zone plan should also consider how to make the best use of school division buildings without unduly increasing building costs, while also taking into account potential cost increases to transportation or staffing. It should also propose possible joint uses of school facilities.

The city and the school division want a 10-year master plan for facility use that parallels the city’s Capital Improvements Program and Plan, giving both a long-term schedule and cost estimates to take on capital projects. The study should also recommend whether, and how, the school division should go about rezoning, according to the proposal request.

Another area of study for the hired consultant will be taking a detailed look of the impact of growth on the city and a way to measure how future growth will impact school facilities. The study should also include how to determine how many students a given development will generate for the school division.

Proposals are due to the city by Sept. 12, with Roberts estimating that a study would cost $350,000.

The next steps will be for he and Interim Superintendent Dr. LaToya Harrison to appoint staff to serve on a review committee, jointly looking at proposals and making a recommendation on a consultant to both the council and board.

Roberts said during the joint meeting that a consultant could be on board as soon as late fall, with the study to be completed sometime around spring 2020.