SHS Rebuild, Don't be distracted, let's talk about the issues

Changing the plan on the SHS rebuild is fiscally irresponsible.   The plan has been approved by citizens, the School Board and the Board of Supervisors.   It’s time to let the project progress and provide the students of the Falmouth District with an educational facility that meets their needs.     Making any changes to the plan will only result in delay of opening the new building.   If changes are made the entire project would need to be reconfigured and taken back to the drawing board which would require work to be STOPPED.   

While removing a building is not an easy decision, it is a decision that was made with broad community input and in a very transparent process.   To change the plan and renovate the building the cost of the project would escalate by a minimum of $20 million and as much as $65 million or more.   The children of the Falmouth district and surrounding are in need of additional elementary school.    The estimated cost of a new elementary school is nearly $40 million.   Stopping the SHS rebuild and renovating the old building now would require a delay in building another elementary school.  In turn that will delay a future high school, and don’t be fooled that renovating the old building for a CTE center will eliminate the need for a future high school.  

When I talk to principals, like Mr. Raybold at Conway Elementary School, their number one concern is the overcrowding in their schools and growing class sizes.   Delaying a new elementary school will only make the problem worse.

Increasing cost and delaying the SHS projects will greatly hamper our ability to address two of the most pressing issues Stafford County Schools are facing;  teacher compensation and transportation.  We ask a lot of our teachers in Stafford County.  We need to address and adopt a compensation strategy that will ensure we are competitive with surrounding jurisdictions and we keep our good teachers here in Stafford County.  We struggle to keep up with transportation needs.  From a deficit of bus drivers to equipment that needs regular replacement we are not meeting the needs.   Being irresponsible with taxpayer money will not enable us to address these issues.

The rebuild project at SHS should not be an issue in this campaign.  It is a done deal and changing the plan for political agenda will inhibit our ability to address teacher compensation, will lead to even larger class sizes and will continue to delay addressing transportation needs.   These are the issue I want to talk about and address over the next four years.    Talking about the rebuild project at SHS is a distraction from the issues that truly matter to, students, teachers, parents and taxpayers of the Falmouth District and Stafford County.

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