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Wise school board to honor musicians, discuss project cuts

Staff report • Mar 26, 2007 at 12:45 PM

WISE - All-District musicians will be recognized for their achievements by the Wise County School Board during today's session at the Education Center in Wise.

Other agenda items include a public hearing on the 2007-08 school division budget, consideration of a number of recommended policy changes that are primarily a housekeeping matter, presentation of a school improvement plan, and ratification of an agreement in principle forged among board members during a recent workshop session to trim the projected total price tag to renovate the six high schools from $110 million to $77 million.

During a special called workshop session on March 16, the school board agreed to look at the recommended upgrades to the high schools in their respective districts and seek ways to make cuts in each of the six project proposals.

On Feb. 27, the four architectural and engineering firms hired to assess the needs at each of the six high schools and recommend improvements presented a preliminary cost estimate of nearly $110 million to bring the six facilities up to modern standards and serve academic needs for at least the next three decades.

The result has been a re-emergence of calls to consolidate the 2,200 total county high school population into brand-new but fewer schools, and a countywide reassessment of the wisdom of sinking a huge investment into outdated facilities. Five of the six high schools were built in the 1950s, and the other, in St. Paul, in the mid-1970s.

During the March 16 workshop, board members agreed in principle to make deep cuts in the project proposals, with renovations expected to focus primarily on issues such as HVAC, new windows, electrical, lighting, plumbing, and the need to address safety and security and disabilities compliance issues.

Proposed additions at each school did not make the priority cut, nor did items such as technology upgrades, asbestos removal, and roof replacements.

Other items on the agenda include consideration of an open enrollment period for employee health insurance, and information about the 2007 Virginia School Board Association Southwest Regional Forum to be held April 24 at the Smyth Career and Technical Center in Seven Mile Ford.

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