June 11, 2019

Halifax County School Board members learned more about the process for building a replacement facility for Halifax County High School when they met Monday night in Halifax, as they listened to school superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg outline procedures for school construction under a state law that permits general contractors and architects to partner in an effort to streamline the building process.

Lineburg reviewed procurement details of the Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act of 2002 that trustees adopted last December explaining the facility advisory and review committee received an “unsolicited” PPEA proposal for a new high school facility May 24 from Roanoke firm Branch Builds, the same firm that renovated the middle school here 12 years ago.

“It’s just a proposal. It doesn’t mean we’ve accepted anything,” the superintendent said Monday evening. “We’re not deciding anything tonight.”

He pointed out the PPEA process could speed up the school construction timeline by nine to 12 months.

Branch Builds, who paid a $10,000 fee to the school division to have its package considered, has joined forces with RRMM Architects, one of three architectural firms the facility committee is considering to design and construct the new school.

The other two Virginia architectural firms under consideration include Grimm and Parker and Moseley Architects, the firm that conducted the study of the current high school for the school board before estimating it would cost $88 million to renovate and upgrade the high school and $99 million to build a new facility.

The facility review committee selected Moseley Architects, RRMM Architect and Grimm and Parker out of the seven firms that submitted proposals on various school building concepts as well as their credentials for being able to guide school officials in the best direction for Halifax County High School.

Committee members who represent a cross-section of the community including school personnel, industry representatives, private citizens and two school board members used a rating system to evaluate each proposal.

Lineburg told school board members that because Branch Builds submitted an offer to build the new high school in conjunction with RRMM Architects, the two other contending architectural firms must be allowed an opportunity to join forces with general contractors of their choosing and submit their own PPEA proposals to the facility review committee. That process will take at least an additional 45 days.

Prior to this change of events, school board members had anticipated recommending an architect to build the new high school at Monday night’s meeting.

Now school board members will not only be considering request for proposal offers but also could be looking at additional PPEA proposals, Lineburg told school board members.

Firms may submit competing proposals until the July 15 deadline. The facilities review committee plans to reconvene on Monday, July 15, to review all proposals including the original request for proposals and make its final recommendation to the school board at the Aug. 12 meeting, he said.

Lineburg has noted a sense of urgency for the board to select a builder in time for a plan to be presented to voters in November when a referendum will be held on whether to approve a 1-cent local sales tax that can be used to upgrade the high school.

School board members working with county supervisors must agree on and formulate a high school initiative by August in time for it to be placed on the November ballot.

No additional funds are needed at this time, he said, explaining a $10,000 check was presented according to PPEA guidelines to offset review and study costs.

Each additional proposal submitted also will require a $10,000 submission by each offeror.

From The Gazette Virginian