School operations facility work on track

Published 8:09 pm Monday, February 10, 2020

The first phase of renovations to the former Mount Zion Elementary School for use as an operations facility for Suffolk Public Schools should be complete in May, according to the division’s director of facilities and planning.

Terry Napier told a joint meeting of the City Council and School Board last Wednesday that once the first phase is complete, the division’s food services, print shop, textbooks and archived records departments will be moved from their Freeney Avenue location into the building off of Pruden Boulevard over the summer.

However, the maintenance facility and maintenance department will not move there at that time, and without funding proposed in the foreseeable future, those will likely stay at the Freeney Avenue site for at least the next several years.

Email newsletter signup

“The maintenance facility and the maintenance department, we can’t split our operation … even though the office portion of that, for us, is in phase one,” Napier said. “The warehouse shop, everything that our people need to do their work, that is in phase two.”

“So, once we complete phase two, the entire maintenance department, the facilities department, will move over to Mount Zion, and at that point, the Freeney Avenue location will be empty.”

But when phase two gets completed is a question mark.

In the proposed Capital Improvements Program and Plan, phase two would be partially funded in the fifth year, with the remainder of the approximately $12.6 million slotted for years six through 10. The current CIP has no funding for phase two until fiscal year 2024.

The phase one work at Mount Zion will cost about $5 million, funded by council over the past two years.

Also, City Manager Patrick Roberts has proposed $50,000 to study the school division’s administrative space needs in the first year of the proposed CIP.

There is an additional $500,000 proposed for year two and $4.5 million in year three to renovate the 40,000-square-foot Human Resources Building, which would serve as the school division’s administration office.