On Oct. 8, 2013, the New Kent Supervisors and School Board held a joint meeting to discuss ownership of the historic hs renovation project, which the Supervisors took over in Sept. 2013, much to the School Board's surprise.

"The first we understood that there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding on Mr. Barnes's part was when I received a copy of the letter from Mr. Hathaway to Hunter Barnes basically saying, 'The School Board has overstepped.' At least that's the way I would characterize it," Richardson said.

"The bottom line is we, at no time, have ever told Hunter Barnes, 'This is what is going to happen'."

Like Simmons, Richardson emphasized that had the county communicated with the School Board about Barnes's letter, the matter could have been solved.

"Prior to sending that letter, [we should have gotten] a 30 second phone call, as in, 'we're concerned about the letter we got from Hunter Barnes. Do you know how he came by this impression? Was this correct'?" said Richardson,

"I could have talked to Hunter Barnes and asked him to rewrite that information in a matter of minutes."

"We found out about it after the letter was sent to him."

During the heated discussion, the School Board questioned the Supervisors' motives behind gaining control of the historic high school renovation.

"There has been a PPEA [Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002] dance in this county for well over a year, so it looks as if, in additional to the budget, there are two underlying pieces: budget and how it's going to get done, and both of those feel like pressure," said Hardinge.

"It feels like we can't decide even if we were to meet your budget because a letter that very simply had the words, 'design-bid, build,' you had such a fit. So, that tells me that you as a collective board had a problem with the process."

According to Hardinge, if the Board of Supervisors keeps control over the historic high school renovation project, it will be only the second governmental body, along with the City of Richmond, that controls historic school renovations.

"The only cautionary note I would offer is if the budget is going to be capped at $8.5 million…the finished product will be based on that dollar amount, not based on a desirable world we want to see," said Richardson, who referred to the auditorium restoration project.

"A lot of work will have to be done to the auditorium restore it to its original condition. That, as an example, might have to be painted over instead of refinished."

Following a closed session, Supervisors discussed the project's planning budget.

Supervisors have allocated $8.5 million to the project, $2.65 million for phase 1 (currently being completed) and $5.9 million for phase 2.

The first phase of the historic high school includes renovating the 1950s (south building, Building N) and the courtyard area, while the second phase includes work on the 1930s building (Building K) and cafeteria.

Building N currently houses the Bridging Communities Technical Center. The existing vocational school will remain in Building N, however, it will be blocked off from the rest of the school.

The lower level of Building N will house the kitchen and cafeteria, and the top floor will have 11 classrooms and the clinic.

The lower level of Building K will contain the existing gymnasium and locker rooms, music room, four classrooms and two resource spaces, while the top floor will have nine classrooms, two resource areas, the library, an administrative area, and the auditorium.

Although some Supervisors raised concerns about the architect fees, other members were pleased that the School Board was still within the $8.5 million overall project budget.

"As long as the School Board is within the budget, I don't have a problem with it," said Supervisor Tommy Tiller.

The Supervisors will review the matter again on October 15 at 6 p.m. in the County Administration Boardroom.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.