VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — An issue punted three times previously by Virginia Beach City Council was unanimously approved Tuesday night.
Resolution No. 5 at Tuesday’s meeting granted approval for the Virginia Beach School board to enter into a $15.4 million interim Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act (PPEA) agreement with local builder S.B. Ballard Construction for design work for three city schools slated for replacement: Princess Anne High, B.F. Williams/Bayside 6th and Bayside High School.
The interim agreement was also approved by both the previous and current Virginia Beach School Board.
A recent construction cost estimate for the three schools alone shot up to more than $700 million, up from a roughly $428 million previous projection. That was based off the district’s typical bid-build method for school construction.
While Tuesday night’s agreement only authorizes 30% of design work, school district officials have said a more extensive PPEA agreement based of those designs could eventually save the city tens of millions of dollars overall through economies of scale and the streamlined process of having Ballard in the design and potential building process.
“We wanted to make sure that these schools get built, but we have to be very cognizant of the taxpayers and their ability to pay,” said Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson, who was heavily involved in the process.
“I’m just thankful that we have found a way to move forward,” added Councilman Chris Taylor. “It was a lively discussion, as a parent of a kindergartener I understand the value of the resources we provide the schools, the teachers … from a community standpoint there are still some questions, but we have an obligation to support our educators.”
Some of those questions dealt with the proposed size and costs of school construction projects, with some saying schools are being built too large and with too elaborate of designs.
Councilman Worth Remick says the “beauty of PPEA is it allows of to engage a general contractor who then can help us devise the right system, cut costs, design the right things to meet the needs of our students and our community, and at the same time cut costs,” calling the agreement a “big step for our city.”
The version council approved Tuesday made three changes to the version approved by the school board. Councilman Joash Schulman says those dealt with expectations for the exact number of school designs, updating council on the cost and size for project, and the revenue sharing process between the school district and the city.