In a unanimous vote the Clarke County Board of Supervisors approved the $10 million expenditure needed to move forward with plans to build the proposed new high school. By approving the measure the Board of Supervisors removed the last financial hurdle for the School Board to issue a request for bids on the new building.
Prior to the vote School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault provided the Supervisors with a summary of the School Board’s planning process and reaffirmed her promise to have the bid documents prepared no later than May, 2010. If completed, the new school will accommodate 800 students with an expansion option to 1,000 students with the addition of eight future classrooms.
The hearing was sparsely attended by the public with only two citizens commenting prior to the vote. Robin Betts, a realtor living in Berryville, has six children in the school system. Betts said “Right now there are about 100 houses on the market in Clarke County. People with children will not purchase those houses if we don’t have an adequate high school.”
Tammy Lanham, an educator living in the Millwood voting district, voiced frustration with the many previous delays that have prevented the project. “Lately I’ve seen such a positive turn-around in so many areas including Berryville and the Barns of Rosemont. Education doesn’t always seem to have the same priority here but 30% of the voters in the county have children in the system. Education is so important.” Lanham then asked the Supervisors “Is building a high school in Clarke County a priority?” Lanham’s question seemed to prompt each Supervisor’s to express strong support for the new building.
Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood) responded that although the building issue had been discussed throughout his previous eight years as chairman the Board of Supervisors now had confidence that the School Board was spending the money wisely and was working hard to achieve the right goals. Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh) said it was time to build “because the Board had significantly raised people’s taxes over the years just for this purpose.” Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell) voiced her desire that no more children graduate from the old building. Supervisor Michael Hobert (Berryville) appeared to sum up the sentiment of the evening saying “We are very proud to finally be building.”
Supervisor Dunning (White Post) was not present for the vote.
While the funding expenditure clears the way for the School Board to request proposals, the project may still face design challenges as well as uncertain support from Richmond as Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s new governor, contemplates budget cuts to offset declining tax revenues.