Millions needed for school repairs

By Nicholas Elmes -

Stokes County is facing over $31 million in needed school facility improvements over the next five years, according to an analysis presented to the Stokes County Board of Commissioners Monday.

Stokes County Schools Director of Operations David Burge told Commissioners that figure came from a facilities needs report required by the state every five years.

“This is for facilities only,” he said, noting that the study provided figures for both a one to five year time period and a six to 10 year time period. “There are a lot of other things in our total five year plan that deals with more than facilities.”

“I am not sure what the state does with it, because they do not seem to provide funding,” said Burge, adding that he was disappointed that the recent bond initiative did not include funding for primary school needs. “The colleges and universities got funding but K-12 got nothing.”

Commissioners said they appreciated the work Burge had put into gathering the data, but did not offer much insight into how they would deal with the county’s aging schools.

“We have the scope of the work now,” said Commissioner Ernest Lankford.

Burge noted that roofing projects, like the $1.2 million replacement needed at Chestnut Grove, needed to take top priority in most cases.

“We are very close to catastrophic failure on the Chestnut Grove roof,” he said. “As we get ready to do our budget for next year this is the number one priority. It was number one for this year but the cost was so much that it was more than what our entire capital budget was. This is a critical catastrophic need. I just hope we can make it until we can get the money to do this. There are others right behind this one.

“We also have several elementary schools that are in need of the same type of remodels we did at Lawsonville,” said Burge. “You also have some flooring issues and many of our parking lots are getting into very bad shape. There are just a lot of different areas.”

He estimated that top short-term repair needs could cost over $5 million.

Commissioner Jimmy Walker asked at what point delaying repairs would end up costing the county more money in the long run.

“If we had done the roof at Chestnut Grove earlier it would have cost us less than a million,” he said.

Burge said there was not an easy answer because the county would continue to face school repair needs.

“There is much left to do,” said newly elected Board Chair Leon Inman. “When you have almost 20 schools it is a lot to look at.”

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes

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