Letter: School construction will have impact for decades
There has been a great deal of talk about the new middle school of late, but basic information still does not clutter the conversation. Simple facts have still not been made public, such as the projected number of middle school students and what assumptions were used to make the projections.
What weight was given to the fact that elementary student counts have declined? Who made the projections? There have been numbers used, but none have been supported in the press or public meetings that I could find. I have never gotten a reply to an e-mail from any school board member on this or any other subject.
The size of the middle school to be constructed has a significant impact on future school budgets. Every square foot of excess space not only adds to the original construction cost, but to the debt service over the next 30 years. Every square foot of excess space increases operation cost for cooling, heating and janitorial services for the life of the building. These costs not only apply to excess educational space based on inflated projections of future student counts, but to every square foot of non-productive space and embellishments like glass walls and balconies. Every square foot of excess space also leads to larger-than-necessary cost for future updates, including but not limited to carpet, tile and paint. The mechanical systems like HVAC will be larger and more costly than necessary in the beginning and to replace at the end of their service life.
All of these future fixed infrastructure costs can only be avoided now by building only what is needed. These fixed costs, if left unaddressed, will reduce the funds available for all other uses for the next 50 years. Maintenance of other buildings, salaries for teaching and support staff, and future buildings will all be impacted. The alternative to good planning and a cautious approach today is higher taxes in the future.
Gloucester Point, Va.