Henrico County’s school system wants $863.3 million for a five-year capital budget featuring plans for two new schools and replacements for five others.
The request presented to the county’s School Board on Thursday eyes new elementary schools in Fairfield and the county’s far west end and would add $12.5 million to the pot for replacing Highland Springs and J.R. Tucker high schools.
The School Board formally adopted what’s called the capital improvement plan at its meeting Thursday but the Henrico Board of Supervisors will have the final say on the county budget. The plan, which lays out how the school division will meet its building needs, spans five years ending in 2025.
The laundry list of infrastructure enhancements and renovations detailed Thursday includes replacing Jackson Davis and R.C. Longan elementary schools; Quioccasin Middle School; and the former Central Gardens Elementary School building where the Math and Science Innovation Center is currently located.
The school system also wants to replace part of The Academy at Virginia Randolph building and expand one of its middle schools in anticipation of student population growth. (The division has yet to decide what middle school.)
Several schools, including Adams, Three Chopt, Dumbarton and Carver elementary schools and Godwin High School are tagged for renovation under the plan.
The plans for the two new elementary schools, which are expected to cost a combined $71.3 million, and the slate of potential school replacements were announced last month.
The proposed school replacements and middle school expansion are expected to cost about $265.3 million.
An uptick in enrollment drove officials’ request for new schools. Data collected this school year showed Henrico had about 250 more students than anticipated for the year, according to a presentation to the School Board.
“Knowing how the enrollment came out the way it did, and since we’re starting the [budget] process anyway, we’re having some conversations about it now,” said Chris Sorensen, assistant superintendent for finance and administration.
A direct funding source for the projects still needs to be determined. With several new schools being planned, as well as the expansion of Holladay Elementary, about $9 million previously budgeted for capital projects this year has been deferred.
Those projects are now listed under the budget for the 2020-2021 school year. School officials are hoping to have $2 million to complete several security projects this year.
“I get it but it’s frustrating. I just wish it wasn’t that way,” said School Board member Bill Pike. “If I had pixie dust or a magic wand or a sledgehammer, maybe I could fix it.”
Superintendent Amy Cashwell said upcoming school redistricting could result in additional changes to the five-year plan.
“Given the fact that we’re in the process of redistricting, we’ve already spoken with our counterparts at county government,” she said. “They’re aware that we may be making adjustments as needed based on any outcomes that would impact our capital improvement plan.”
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