County School Maintenance Delayed

By Melissa Arseniuk Staff Writer
Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Loudoun County School Board last week delayed most school maintenance work scheduled for the coming academic year after receiving just 30 percent of the county funding it had requested for repairs and renovations.

In the case of 30 projects, the work will not be completed until 2014 at the earliest.

Board members approved a $1.4 million Capital Asset Preservation Program on Tuesday night. The program typically covers roof, window, plumbing, electrical, heating/air conditioning and structural repairs to school buildings. Of that amount, the board approved $720,000 for roofing projects and $275,000 for heating and air conditioning improvements. All scheduled window and plumbing repairs were postponed for the school year.

Jeffrey Platenberg, assistant superintendent for support services, said that pushing back plans would not put students at risk or have an adverse effect on their learning.

"The projects listed [for fiscal 2009] are those that hold priority. . . . Some projects may appear questionable, but they have been thoroughly reviewed," Platenberg said, citing the resurfacing of tennis courts at Broad Run High School and replacement of a kitchen hood at Lucketts Elementary School as examples.

Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III said school officials are focusing mostly on preventive maintenance to avoid the need to replace facilities, which would be more expensive in the long run.

"If you don't seal asphalt, then you have to replace it . . . [and] if we're going to have team competition at Broad Run High School, we've got to have the tennis courts," he said, before noting the need to maintain parity in standards and program offerings throughout the school system.

Because of all the projects deferred, the revised schedule shows $6.7 million in maintenance work for fiscal 2010, $7.7 million in fiscal 2011 and $6.9 million in fiscal 2012. Board member Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) said that those figures are unrealistic, given how little the Board of Supervisors allocated to the program this year, and that the School Board should pare its list.

J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) agreed. "We're going to be right back here next year, facing the same, or similar, circumstances," he said.

The board also voted unanimously Tuesday night to abandon an idea to build an elementary school in the East Gate community in the Chantilly area. About 11 acres of land have been proffered to the county for public use. But Sam Adamo, director of planning and legislative services for Loudoun public schools, told the board that the site is not safe and should not be given further consideration.

Adamo and his staff said that the L-shaped site is too small and cannot accommodate two entrances and exits as required. They also said that the uneven terrain would require substantial, expensive resurfacing. The proffered land is also along a busy road.

The school district has spent three years and more than $30,000 assessing the site. "It's been a drain on staff resources for three years," said Chairman Robert F. DuPree Jr. (Dulles).

The parcel was being considered for an elementary school to open in fall 2010.

"We definitely need an elementary school to open in 2010, and we will open one in 2010," DuPree said. "We're still working on where it's going to be."

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