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Question regarding $60 million debt for new school could be on Nov. 2 ballot

Question regarding $60 million debt for new school could be on Nov. 2 ballot

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Goochland County is now one step closer to building a new elementary school, after the County School Board voted unanimously on April 13 to petition the Board of Supervisors for assistance in obtaining the roughly $60 million that will be needed for the new school and several upgrades to current school facilities.

In accordance with the vote, the school board will now ask supervisors to request that a local judge add a question on the Nov. 2 ballot asking the community to decide wether of not to incur the debt.

The funds would be used to construct a long-discussed new Goochland Elementary School at the corner of Bulldog Way and Steeplechase Parkway, a building that would replace the nearly 65-year-old current building. Goochlnd school superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley pointed out in his presentation to school board members that the current facility does not have a gymnasium, and that the library is small and outdated.

The building “has served the community well,” Raley said, “but it is time for us to move forward with new construction.”

In addition to the new elementary school, the requested funds would be used to create a 34,000 square foot addition to the county high school to be used for Career and Technical Education and STEM programs, as well as a wrestling facility and an auxiliary gymnasium.

“As I have shared publicly, we are only one of three schools in the region that do not have an auxiliary gymnasium,” Raley said. “When we think about equity and access and opportunities, our athletic programs are handcuffed somewhat not having access to those facilities.”

Parking lot and bus loop improvements at the complex housing the county’s high school and middle school would also be undertaken.

School Board chair Karen Horn pointed out that the proposed improvements would have a far-reaching impact on students in all grades.

District 5 school board representative John Wright, the longest-serving member of the current board, said prior to the vote that he wholeheartedly supports both the construction of the new school and the proposed improvements.

“This has been something that we have talked about and looked at and planned for all of this time, something that we knew we needed and began to materialize five years ago,” Wright said. “It has taken a lot of effort from team members — some of whom probably aren’t with us still — but it’s really been a fantastic process and i couldn’t be more pleased to move that we pass this resolution.”

Concluding his remarks, Raley pointed out to board members that the plan to incur the $60 million would not be expected to raise taxes.

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