What will a new consolidated elementary school really cost the citizens of Charlotte County?

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On paper, the initial estimates from the Dewberry Study note that the cost to build a 950-student consolidated elementary school would be about $24-$26 million. That’s an estimate. Until we get design plans drawn up by an architectural/engineering firm and get bids on the school facility, we will not know what the exact cost will be.

Structural design plans to build a school of this size will probably cost our county $500,000 or more. That’s upfront money that you have to spend before you have really make the final decision to build.  Our 2015 Charlotte County School Board investigated the Virginia Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA). This would allow Charlotte County to get the design plans and a contractor’s bid price on the school facility at no upfront cost to the county.

If we accept the design plans and the bid price, then we pay the cost of the design plans. If the bid cost is too great, we have the option to reject the plans and the bid.

As a county, we need to take advantage of this program. We have nothing to gain by waiting. In order to initiate this process, the school board asked the board of supervisors to adopt the guidelines, which are required by the commonwealth. The supervisors tabled this until their January meeting.

The true cost of this new consolidated elementary school facility to the county taxpayer will be much less than what the actual bid price ends up being.  Information and facts from the Dewberry Study and our school administration show that we will save at least $700,000 per year through efficiencies gained in operating one new, centrally-located elementary school versus operating the three (Phenix, Bacon and Eureka) older elementary schools that we currently have. Savings of $550,000 will come in a reduction of personnel needs and $150,000 more will come through energy and fuel cost savings.

Also, $700,000 per year of our tax dollars saved over 30 years equals $21 million saved. If we don’t act to build, those potential savings turn into $21 million of wasted tax dollars. If you are truly a fiscal conservative, you would vote to build the new school to stop the waste.

If you really want what is best for all of our elementary school children, the most cost-effective way for giving them up-to-date equal educational opportunities, you would vote to build the consolidated school.


C. Brick Goldman