The Gloucester School Board voted Tuesday to request $2.6 million from county supervisors for renovations to the T.C. Walker Education Center.
The renovations will transform a portion of the former elementary school into offices for school division administrators and their staffs, who now occupy two-thirds of a county government building. The county needs additional office space for its personnel, and supervisors last week asked the school board to relocate its administrative offices by Dec. 31.
School division construction manager Scott Shorland said he had been working with the low-bid contractor to reduce the estimated cost of the renovation project, which initially carried a $3.5 million price tag. He said discounts, reducing the scope of the project and using some less expensive materials helped to trim costs.
Shorland said asbestos abatement work remains part of the project along with a new HVAC system for the office areas. Renovations to restrooms and corridors were cut and the cost of the trim package was reduced by using alternative materials. The reductions also include utilizing existing office furnishings. Some site work to improve stormwater drainage remains part of the project.
The board approved the reduced cost plans in a 4-3 vote, with vice chairman Kevin Smith and members Anita Parker and Carla Hook in opposition. Smith said he thought the board should delay a vote until the project could be discussed with supervisors during a scheduled joint meeting of the boards on March 28.
Hook said she preferred the school administrators stay where they are because there are millions of dollars in capital improvement needs at county schools that are unfunded.