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School Board Recap: Oct. 24, 2023

Two schools’ additions are nearly complete, and the new Charles W. Day Technical Education Center is on track to open in January, RCPS leaders told the School Board during their October workshop.

During an update about ongoing Capital Improvement Projects, Chief Operations Officer Chris Perkins shared that the $5.6 million addition to Morningside Elementary School would be substantially complete by Nov. 2. The $8.5 million additions to James Breckinridge Middle School would be substantially complete by Nov. 8, with a ribbon-cutting on Nov. 13.

The Charles W. Day Technical Education Center (DAYTEC) adjacent to William Fleming High School is slated to be substantially complete by Jan. 15, 2024. There are some remaining installation delays for material and equipment, but Mr. Perkins said the project remained on track.

DAYTEC cost a total of $24.5 million, with a majority of the funding coming from the one-time American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund ($15.5 million) and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s School Construction Assistance Program ($7.3 million).

 “This is the marquee site for our Equity in Action plan,” Mr. Perkins said. This was showcased by a project architect that said the new barbering and cosmetology wing is the best in the state.

The new William B. Robertson Administration Building is now slated for completion by July 2025. Staff will move into the downtown Roanoke building, which previously housed the Roanoke Times, over time. The 3rd floor academics wing and 1st floor human resources wing will be completed by July 2024 and the 2nd floor, mezzanine level, and board room will be completed by July 2025.

Mr. Perkins said he believes most construction can finish as soon as February 2025 if staff move as construction takes place, which could mean some staff moving in and out of the building throughout the process. The total construction cost is estimated at $11 million.

The Booker T. Washington Community Empowerment and Education Center, which will be in the current Central Administration Building off Orange Avenue, will be substantially complete by July 2025. The project has a $3 million budget, most of which will be spent on HVAC and electrical work. Staff are currently working on public-private partnerships, grants, and have met with Sen. Tim Kaine’s chief of staff related to additional funding opportunities.

The center, which will offer a Welcome Center, adult education, parenting workshops and classes, and other community services, will be a “tremendous asset to Roanoke at large,” Mr. Perkins said. The Superintendent’s Community Engagement Committee are already working on programming based on the community needs assessment.

Lastly, Mr. Perkins said planning continues for the new Preston Park Elementary School, which is projected to be substantially complete by July 2026. RCPS is using the Construction Manager At-Risk (CMAR) process, which guarantees a maximum price. Approximately $44.3 million is budgeted, with $10 million coming from the School Construction Assistance Program.

Mr. Perkins said the annual Capital Improvement Plan process has started for the upcoming school year, and the draft plan will be brought to the Board in March. The 10-year plan is revised annually.

Budget Update

Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Jackson also provided a budget update as RCPS prepares to begin the budget process for the 2024-2025 school year.

Though later than usual, the General Assembly adopted a revised budget in September 2023. Total funding exceeds the adopted budget by $6 million. However, $8 million is specifically for the state’s ALL IN initiative, which is related to tutoring and academic progress.

RCPS provided an average 14% raise in 2022-2023 and a 5% raise in 2023-2024 for teachers, and an ever higher average raise in 2022-2023 for classified staff. RCPS has already given raises more than what the state is partially funding, Mrs. Jackson said. RCPS will receive the state’s share of funding since RCPS has already met and exceeded the state’s minimum raise requirement to receive funding.

“We will certainly consider compensation as a priority as we develop the 2024-2025 budget,” Mrs. Jackson said, noting that RCPS has the highest starting pay in the region and is also very competitive compared to urban districts across Virginia.

Budget managers will begin building their budget requests in November. Finance will also begin in November evaluating the budgetary impact of various raise scenarios.

Several School Board members asked questions about the funding for the Governor’s ALL IN initiative. Mrs. Jackson explained that the funding was part of the state allotment of funds, but it is intended for specific purposes. Some programming that RCPS has in place meets the criteria for the initiative, so the funding can be used to offset those costs. There will also be additional funds for tutoring, and principals are still working on a plan to implement ALL IN.

Dr. White explained that the state has provided some virtual platforms. Dr. White said RCPS is identifying whether those platforms are best for RCPS students. If not, RCPS would need to spend additional money.

“Now we’re checking on the platform that would be most beneficial for students and teachers,” she said.

Mrs. Jackson said additional information would be available at the December School Board meeting, which will include a budget update.

Visit BoardDocs to view the Oct. 24th meeting agenda. The next School Board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13th at Patrick Henry High School.