On Tuesday, March 11, the New Kent County School Board met with the Board of Supervisors and Marengo Management, the developers for the historic high school renovation project.

NEW KENT – The New Kent County School Board, Board of Supervisors, and historic high school project developers took the first step Tuesday night to move forward as a collective team.

"I think we bring a lot of talents and skills to the table and I think we are all moving in the right direction," said School Board Chairman Leigh Quick.

"I think this is a good process to move forward and work in the best interest of the community and kids," echoed architect John Hopke, of Hopke & Associates.

The plan is to renovate the historic high school building to alleviate overcrowding. The school board held a joint meeting Tuesday night with the Board of Supervisors and Marengo Management representatives to discuss the following project topics:

•Non-negotiables: these include a single point of entry, site work (playground, parking, bus loop, etc.), technology, the elimination of mold, asbestos and lead paint, detailed plans, and consistency in school equipment.

•Planned use for the building and detail of project scope as a "safe, cost effective" K-5 elementary school

•Collaborative planning/improved strategy with a documented, detailed plan, and a construction/operational timeline.

•Open communication between the parties and school staff, including teachers, principals, central office administrators, etc.

The School Board also stressed to Marengo representatives that they would like to know if their $7.2 million proposal includes site work, furniture, and/or technology.

The Board of Supervisors voted on Feb. 19 to approve Marengo Management's unsolicited Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA) proposal, and to move into a more detailed phase of the historic high school project.

The next phase of the project includes the renovation of the 20,000 square-foot 1930 school building on New Kent Highway for use as an elementary school in fall 2015.

The School Board held an informative meeting last month that incidentally exposed the lack of communication between the two boards and Marengo (See related story), and resulted in citizens' concerns.

Soon after, the School Board announced the joint meeting. The historic renovation project committee, which consists of school board members, supervisors, Marengo representatives, and other school and county staff, will meet again on Friday, March 14, at 8:30 a.m.

"This has been a very good meeting and we will keep these going," said County Administrator Rodney Hathaway. "We're excited to keep communication open."

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