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CCPS addresses funding needs

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will hold a public hearing March 9 at 6 p.m. to hear comments concerning a funding request by Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS).

Bret Arbogast, executive director of operations with CCPS, addressed the BOS Feb. 10.

The school board is requesting that the FY2020 budgeted amount of $586,000 for debt service payment for the Phase II School Projects be used to complete several capital projects that are part of Phase II in the current fiscal year.

Phase I of the school’s construction project included the addition of classrooms at Phenix Elementary and gymnasiums at both Phenix and Bacon. Phase I is estimated to cost $3.2 million. Portions of Phase I are still underway.

Phase II is a continuation of renovation projects at both Bacon and Phenix Elementary schools.

“You just have to have a public hearing to re-appropriate money that you’ve already appropriated from one line item to another,’ County Administrator Daniel “Dan” Witt told the BOS.

Since funds have not been borrowed at this time for Phase II, the debt service payments will not be expensed in FY2020.

According to documents Arbogast presented to the BOS, funds will be used at Phenix Elementary School for window replacement, front door access, and bathroom renovations.

For Bacon Elementary School, it will include window replacement, renovation of single-unit restrooms in classrooms, ceiling and lighting upgrades, HVAC upgrades, and the installation on an exhaust fan.

“If funds are allocated to the school system to begin working on the items approved by the school board, we will complete as many items as possible within the monies allotted,” Arbogast said.

In November, Project Manager A. Hunter Wilson with OWPR, an architect and engineering firm from Blacksburg, presented a Facilities Condition Assessment Report during a joint meeting with the BOS and the school board.

The 108-page report noted a projected total cost of $3,324,975 for Phenix and $6,788,693 for Bacon.

Charlotte Court House resident Terry Ramsey took to the podium to address the BOS during the public comment period of the Feb. 10 meeting, expressing his concerns for declining student enrollment.

“We are on a slippery slope as we spend more and more to patch up and operate three separate elementary schools for fewer and fewer students, Ramsey said. “Each time we spend reserves or increase debt to patch an old building which is only needed for a short time, the more foolish it will look to close a school we just borrowed money to patch. But with the steady enrollment decline, the choice of closing a school is inevitable.

During his address, Ramsey cited numbers he obtained from the Department of Education showing enrollment of 212 students in 2014- 2015 compared to 151 during the 2019-2020 school term.

For Phenix, their enrollment dropped from 272 for 2014-2015 to 240 students in 2019-2020.

Eureka Elementary School sees the highest number of student enrollment with 472 in the 2014-2015 school term and 448 in the 2019- 2020 term.