Letter: Page MS project reflects poor management
The following letter is in response to a letter to the editor by Rusty West ("An opportunity missed," Oct. 24 Readers Write).
County records reflect the Page Middle School building, its contents and property in the open, were insured for $13,513,744. The insurance carrier’s final offer to fund returning Page to an upgraded and fully functional state, to repair/replace all outbuildings, lights, fences, the concession stand and bleachers was $8,235,687.
The school system paid RRMM Architects $27,000 to conduct another assessment. The areas RRMM disagreed with appear justified and would have enhanced the safety, quality and durability of the schoolhouse. RRMM’s estimate was $9,994,355. A difference of $1,758,668 and both under the $13,513,744 coverage limit. Because of age, utility infrastructure servicing the school needed upgrading which would have been cheaper than extending infrastructure to the T.C. Walker Road site. Parking and driveway areas would have needed to be upgraded to compliment re-construction. Mr. Kiser stated it would cost $2,200,000 to build school administration offices on the Page site at the Nov. 9, 2011 school board meeting.
Say RRMM’s estimate was correct. Say the county contributed $10,000,000 to upgrade utilities, parking and drive areas and to construct the administration facility. A total of $11,758,668 would have been spent by taxpayers to open a fully functional school complex and a school administration center. Projected costs to date are around $29,000,000. $6,400,000 from interest-free loans and $12,000,000 plus interest from another loan over 20 years. Debt like that for an incomplete school complex makes the $288,000 hardening expense look very large and the $1,500,000 surplus look extremely small. Had the school board changed glass walls to standard masonry walls with windows (as they were asked by the BOS) there would be money for hardening. The whole Page process reflects very poor management by the school board and school administration and is an extremely poor reason to raise taxes. The school board and the board of supervisors are not two separate governments and should always work together. Because the school board’s area of focus is on educating Gloucester’s youth, all land acquisition, infrastructure, construction and maintenance matters pertaining to the school system’s needs should be joined with all other such matters of the county with final decisions left up to the board of supervisors. Why few people run for school board positions in Gloucester is another story.
Kenneth E. Hogge Sr.
Gloucester Point, Va.