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Carroll schools get $15 million

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State funds will pay for final phase of school improvements

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND ― Carroll County Public Schools received $15 million from the state to go towards its third and final phase of schools improvements.

The Virginia Department of Education announced Wednesday the distribution of $229.5 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds, including the maximum amount of $15 million for the projects at Carroll County high and intermediate schools.

“These bonds will be put to good use in school divisions across the state to finance much-needed new construction ― and renovations and repairs to existing public schools and facilities,” said Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright. “These allocations will allow urgent and long-delayed projects to move forward and improve the learning and working environments for thousands of students, educators and other school division employees.”

The application process gave priority to consolidation projects eliminating overcrowding, in economically stressed localities, replacing facilities more than 35 years old, creating school-wide high-speed networks in divisions not receiving prior QSCB allocations. Priority was also given to projects related to health and safety and projects on the July 2010 first-priority waiting list for literary fund loans.

Carroll Schools Superintendent Greg Smith said the breakdown of the bonds amounts to $6.7 million for work on the intermediate school and $8.2 million for the high school. Carroll County was one of three divisions to get the maximum award. "We're pretty thrilled about it all," the schools superintendent said.

This is not the end of the Carroll school division's efforts to get funding for the projects, however. Smith noted that the work needed to add classroom spaces to both schools and revamp mechanical systems has been estimated at a total of $25 million.

"We're uncertain how much of the phase 3 projects we can complete with only $15 million," he said. "It's a good sum to get us started."

Educators still hope that a favorable prices due to a soft construction market will make these projects all the more affordable.

Smith said he will recommend the Carroll County School Board request bids for the construction work, he said. "We will more accurately know the true cost of phase 3 renovation and construction."

Carroll officials still continue to have conversations with Rural Development and the Virginia Public Schools Authority on getting the rest of the necessary funding, Smith said. 

The Carroll school division would not have been successful in getting the bonds without the work of the school board, the unwavering support from the Carroll Board of Supervisors and lobbying by legislators in Richmond, Smith said. 

“I am thankful for the vision and the foresight of the Carroll County School Board and the unwavering commitment of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors in this venture. Additionally, I appreciate the efforts of

Delegate Carrico and Senator Reynolds for their support of this project,”

said Smith in a news release. 

Phase 3 includes a plan to close Woodlawn and make the intermediate school a middle school with grades six through eighth. The ninth grade will shift to the high school.

Closing Woodlawn school boosted the ranking of the Carroll projects, Smith said.

The state bonds are issued by the Virginia Public School Authority on behalf of school divisions and localities, state officials explained in the news release. 

Divisions and localities are responsible for repayment of the principal, but receive direct federal subsidies to offset interest payments on the bonds. 

The QSCB program does not affect the commonwealth’s debt capacity. The allocations announced Wednesday are preliminary until the eligibility of each recipient is formally certified.