Charlottesville awarded over $17.5 M in state funds for Buford renovation

The Virginia Board of Education held a special meeting on May 11 to take care of unfinished business including the award of $365 million in the school construction assistance program. 

“This is the major school construction grant program which was created in the 2022 [General Assembly] session and funded at $450 million,” said Kent Dickey, Deputy State Superintendent for the Division of Budget, Finance, and Operations.

The Board of Education established eleven scoring criteria in the fall and this was applied to all of the applications.

“Those criteria focused on poor building conditions, commitment, and need which were the key triggers that the General Assembly placed in the appropriation act,” Dickey said.

In all, there were 119 applications from 63 school divisions. 

Charlottesville submitted the Buford Middle School project with a budget of $87,813,410 and scored a 77. That translates into $17,562,682 in state funds or about 20 percent of the project’s total amount. 

The cost estimate used in the application is slightly lower than the full cost of the project, which includes design work. 

“The grant will enable Charlottesville to achieve the full estimated $91.8 million scope of its middle school project—including the renovation of the fine arts building, a terraced outdoor classroom, and a redeveloped school garden—without compromising funding for other school facility needs or capital improvement projects,” reads a press release sent out on May 18. 

A contract has been awarded to Nielsen Construction for the Buford project and work is expected to begin shortly after school ends on June 9.

The award has the potential to free up other funding for Charlottesville City Schools but staff are still studying compliance requirements. 

“By the terms of the grant, the City agreed to ‘maintain or increase the percentage of local revenues dedicated to public education throughout the duration of the financing proposed for the project’, said City Schools spokeswoman Amanda Korman in an email. “As we carefully follow the grant requirements, it is possible that this grant will create opportunities for the City to support other school facilities needs.

Other projects in the Fifth District awarded funds in this round: 

  • The City of Danville received $13 million for renovations at G.L.H. Johnson Elementary, $13.5 million for the R.I.S.E Academy at the John M. Langston Campus, and $23 million for renovations at George Washington High.
  • The City of Lynchburg will receive $270,090 for work at the Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle for Innovation. 
  • Halifax County will receive $20 million for the $100 million Halifax County High 
  • Appomattox County has been awarded $4.5 million for the $15 million Appomattox County High 
  • Campbell County will get $15 million for $50 million in renovations at Brookville High School. 
  • Pittsylvania County will receive $2.8 million for work at the Pittsylvania Vocational-Technical Center and $1.8 million for Stony Mill Elementary 
  • Nelson County will get ten percent for $24,517,032 of work at Nelson County High 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the May 23, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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