Williamsburg-James City County School Division administrators are proposing a redesign of the Capital Improvement Plan process that would aim to fully vet potential projects before they’re added to the budget.
Superintendent Steven Constantino’s proposal calls for the establishment of a CIP Committee, which would “provide insight and feedback” to ensure the evaluation and prioritization of projects is “objective and thorough.”
The proposal comes after the completion of a Facility Condition Index, a product of a Facility Condition and Educational Adequacy Assessment commissioned last fall and a report a school division memo calls the “blueprint for repair and replacement needs for the next 10 years.”
Members of the committee would include the school division’s chief financial officer, the deputy superintendent, the senior director for operations, three school principals, the coordinator of athletics, the comptroller, the facilities manager and three community members with expertise “fundamental to the CIP.”
“We’re ensuring the committee is representative of people who need to be at the table,” Constantino said during the May 10 School Board work session.
The timeline for crafting each year’s CIP would be moved up earlier in the fiscal year, with the first step of the process, the completion of a Financial, Facilities Systems and Component Assessment, beginning in April.
Opportunities for community input have been built into the schedule and are proposed to take place in September and October. The School Board would approve a CIP in December.
A measurement and evaluation system is proposed to properly consider projects that may not be related to the Facility Conditions Index. Those projects would be accepted, reviewed for appropriateness and evaluated in a timely manner.
Projects that are not funded when they are introduced would be revisited in future CIP discussions and their priority would be re-evaluated.
“We’re trying to tighten it up a bit because we can never afford what everybody wants,” Constantino said. “We’re trying to at least come close.”
Board Vice Chairwoman Kyra Cook (City of Williamsburg) said she appreciated a proposal to meet annually with members of the James City County and City of Williamsburg planning commissions to advocate for school division projects, an addition she felt strengthened the process.
“At the end of the day I appreciate the administration sharing this with us and I really think it’s a natural next step to the work that was started last year with the [assessment],” Cook said, noting she felt it was more of a school administration responsibility to implement, rather than the School Board.
She added she would like to see the repurposing of buildings, not just renovations or the construction of new buildings, to be fairly considered in the new process.
Constantino admitted he had not thought of repurposing when drafting the new CIP process and said it was a good suggestion that should be added.
“Honestly that’s probably a good task for this committee,” Constantino said. “I have no problem in adding a notion of not just where we’re going but also, ‘can we repurpose something we already have into another use?’”
The Board debated whether a School Board member should sit on the committee, but determined regular updates from Constantino would suffice.