School Construction Going “Gangbusters”, Funds Found for Mosby Blvd.

“Clarke County High School construction is moving forward like gangbuster!” Clarke County School Board  member Robina Bouffault (White Post) told the Clarke County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.   Bouffault reported that the new building is under budget with final completion scheduled for March or April of 2012.

CCPS School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy demonstrates student art work to the Board of Supervisors - Photo Edward Leonard

Bouffault said that an important milestone had recently been passed with approval of the HVAC   system by the commissioning firm hired to review the design.

“The HVAC system was approved with only minor changes,” Bouffault said. “Once the HVAC is completed and installed I believe that we are going to be very satisfied. HVAC   is the major component of the building commissioning.”

Bouffault also reported that a $500K balance set aside for a new green house and playing field irrigation system will require only $265K in expense leaving the balance for other uses. Bouffault told the Supervisors any surplus funds available at the end of the project are already earmarked for renovation of other school division buildings.

“Any amount not spent from the construction budget will automatically go into renovation and capital costs,” Bouffault said. “We plan to use the funds as quickly as possible.”

Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell) questioned the future status of school property located north of the school construction site and visible from VA Route 7.

“Is anything being planned for that eyesore up there?” Byrd asked.

“No, that is not in our budget,” Bouffault replied.

Bouffault also reported that funding for the extension of Mosby Boulevard, as well as funds for street lights, had been approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The status of the $266K funding “pothole” had threatened to inject additional planning challenges and potential costs as the building neared completion with one of its three entrances inaccessible. VDOT spokeman Edwin Carter later confirmed during the meeting that funding had materialized for the project.

Addressing the Supervisors after Bouffault, Clarke County Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy described significant progress in supporting the wellness of both students and staff.

New asphalt for Berryville, Virginia's pedestrian footpath - Photo Edward Leonard

“We plan to continue with Sodexo next year,” Murphy said. Sodexo, the school food service provider, has delivered a series of innovative changes that Murphy believes have increased participation in school meal programs and provided healthier and tastier lunches for students.

“We now have new steamers and food warmers,” Murphy said. “That means when you eat a carrot it actually goes ‘crunch’!”

Murphy also said that a new low-balance lunch account program will ensure that students with less than the balance amount required for a lunch will still be able to eat on “credit.”

“The low balance on the student’s lunch account automatically triggers a phone call home that lets the parent know that their child needs additional money added to their account,” Murphy said.

Murphy also described plans to create a school “wellness committee” that will attempt to promote healthy lifestyles for students and staff in hopes of generating more energy for both learning and teaching. The committee’s plans include a September 9th “Community Night” where Clarke County citizens will be invited to come to the school for health screening tests and to sample Sodexo’s healthy food offerings.

On other topics Murphy said that the division is evaluating the replacement of its website management tool and plans to replace it with a product called “Fusion”. The Fusion tool will, among other benefits, allow each CCPS teacher to create and maintain their own school website.

Murphy also said that a search committee is in the final stages of recommending a new principal for Clarke County high School.

“We are in the process of talking with the top three candidates,” Murphy said. “I expect that the process will go very quickly from here forward.”