By Carla Branch
The Alexandria City School Board is currently considering a $608.2 million ten-year Capital. Improvement Program Budget, up $83 million from the $515.7 million CIP budget proposed by Alexandria City Public Schools’ Superintendent Alvin Crawley in October. The Board will adopt a fiscal year 2018-2027 CIP budget on Thursday night.
The Alexandria City Council and the School Board adopted a $273,988,551 CIP budget for ACPS in May. Just over six months later, The Board is currently proposing to add $334,202,530, an increase of 122%. Council members expressed concern about Crawley’s proposed 77% increase at the City Council retreat on Nov. 5.
“It is our job to balance all of the City’s priorities when we look at the budget,” said Vice Mayor Justin Wilson. “We are facing significant increases in expenditures over the next several years including additional funding for our public schools. If we are going to sell significant tax increases to our residents, it is important that we plan appropriately.”
Councilman John Chapman agreed. “It is important that we have consistency and that is why it was relatively easy to present the expenditures that are going to be required to fund the new Potomac Yard Metro Station,” he said. “That is also why we have a ten-year CIP budget. Things change, of course, but with planning, those changes are not so dramatic.”
Councilman Tim Lovain said: “While it is important for us to understand the systemwide needs of our public schools, we may not be able to fund them all in ten years. It may take longer.”
Board Chair Karen Graf and Vice Chair Chris Lewis both reminded Council tht the CIP budget Crawley presented to them was his budget and that the Board had significant work to do. “We will take a close look at Dr. Crawley’s proposal and adopt a CIP budget that we believe will support the Board goals and strategic plan and success for all of our students,” Graf said.
Since Crawley presented his proposed CIP, The Board has held several work sessions. On Dec. 6 and Dec. 8, they held their final add/delete sessions. Prior to the Dec. 8 work session, ACPS Director of Facilities Richard Jackson and ACPS Director of Planning, Design and Construction Elijah Gross sent a memorandum through Crawley to Graf and the other members of the Board explaining the proposed budget changes. That memorandum follows:
Background: On Tuesday, December 6, School Board members engaged in discussions related to add/delete requests for the FY 2018-2027 Capital Improvement Program Budget.
Based on feedback during the add/delete work sessions, including a review of items for co-sponsorship and Superintendent recommended adjustments, the School Board reached consensus on the following actions.
- Added second Pre-K center as a separate line item at a cost of $27.6 million (FY 2024: $4.6 million; FY 2025: $23.1 million). Staff will conduct a review to determine feasibility of a separate site or option to co-locate at a site to be determined.
- Revised modernization schedule for Cora Kelly and George Mason. George Mason modernization would take place during FY 2021-22 and the Cora Kelly modernization would occur in FY 2022-23. This recommendation also removes the funding for co-location of pre-k at Cora Kelly. Funding for the Cora Kelly project changed to a total of $28.6 million (FY 2022: $4.8 million, FY 2023: $23.8 million) and the George Mason project changed to $39.8 million (FY 2021: $6.6 million, FY 2022: $33.2 million). Funding was added to replace the full roof at Cora Kelly as well.
- Revised Matthew Maury modernization timeline from FY 2025-2026 to FY 2023-2024.
- Added $46 million for swing space in FY 2018 to fund the purchase of developed land to accommodate students and staff impacted by complete building modernizations.
- Added $115,000 in FY 2018 to William Ramsay non-capacity line item to accommodate cost of playground equipment.
- Removed the line item of T.C. Williams generator in the amount of $172,700 as it is no longer needed.
- Added $300,000 in FY 2018 to systemwide account for painting of buildings based on an established cycle.
- Added $100,000 to TCW stadium cost for fencing around the perimeter of the field.
- The funding for Matthew Maury is increased by $1.9 million in FY 2023 and $3.8 million in FY 2024 to reflect the correct soft costs and inflation costs.
- After a reassessment of relocatable needs, capacity relocatable funding is decreased by $2.3 million in FY 2018.
Additional adjustments in the Superintendent’s Proposed FY2018-2027 CIP include the following.
- Added $100,000 in FY2018 for secondary school project planning, funds will be drawn down from the FY2019 $19.7 million high school line item for design and other soft costs. The secondary planning process would start in September 2018 with the formation of an internal work group that would create a process of engagement, review recommendations from the feasibility study, School Day Committee and Long Range Education Facilities Planning documents.
- Added $250,000 for brick fencing for T.C. Williams stadium.
- Added $15 million in FY2020 for land acquisition.
- Added $15 million in FY2026 for land acquisition.
- Changed language in the FY2018-2027 CIP book to reflect a commitment to develop a high quality pre-k model that accommodates up to 360 students versus stand-alone Pre-K Center.
- Established a painting schedule and funding for facilities that are not in the modernization program or were recently constructed.
There was extensive discussion regarding the cost associated with swing space and impact on the FY 2018 budget. Based on staff’s review of funding options any split of funds would result in the need to delay initiation of the modernization process