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Process decided for CTE building project

The Franklin County School Board has decided to go with a design-bid-build process for a career and technical education building project.

Franklin County Public Schools typically uses a design-bid-build approach for construction and capital improvement projects, but considered breaking tradition for the CTE building project, which has been on the division’s to-do list for years.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, it came down to a decision between design-bid-build and PPEA.

PPEA is named after the 2002 Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act that created it. The PPEA method is very similar to design-build, but includes an optional financing component. It could be faster than design-bid-build, but more expensive and would allow the board less control after construction starts.

“I’ll give you my opinion — if there was a clear cut method that was the best method, I think we wouldn’t be having these discussions,” FCPS Director of Operations Jason Guilliams said at the school board’s Monday night meeting. “...There are risks and rewards in any method that we do choose. With the atmosphere and the climate of where are in today’s market, any project is going costly, it’s going to have time built into it.”

Guilliams recommended the division opt for design-bid-build, and the board followed his recommendation.

“Everything we’ve done has been design-bid-build, and everything we had control over,” P.D. Hambrick, Union Hall District representative, said. “...When you’ve got somebody with a foot on the ground, a hand on what’s going on, it makes a lot of difference. It makes you sleep better at night when you’re spending the public’s money.”

Arlet Greer, Blackwater District representative, mentioned her recent visit to Floyd County Public Schools’ CTE project and said she was impressed.

“That’s supposed to be completed for them to go into this fall,” Greer said. “...It was just incredible, and I hope that we can kind of mirror what they’ve done.”

Guilliams noted that Floyd County received a lot of input from teachers, staff and community members before starting to design the facility.

As the FCPS project progresses, staff will provide updates at board meetings.

On Monday the board also approved the use of roughly $161,000 Title V funds to purchase equipment for career explorations labs at Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s east and west halls. The labs are part of the division’s Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers, or GOTEC, program.

On Monday, FCPS Coordinator of Federal Programs Brenda McGrath explained that Title V funds come from the federal government to certain rural and low-income school divisions. The last time the division received Title V funds was in 2017, McGrath said.

Previously, the division approved the use of about $288,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to make purchases for the labs. Together, the Title V and COVID relief money will pay for furniture, computers and equipment for both middle school labs.

Karen Weaver, with FCPS Instructional Technology, said the GOTEC lab equipment will be similar to what is used in various industries.

“Our goals for the program are to provide extra career exposure and exploration, especially at our middle school level,” Weaver said. “...The units in our GOTEC program will include precision machining, welding, IT and cybersecurity, robotics and automation, mechatronics, advanced materials, precision agriculture and biotechnology.”

The labs should be up and running for the start of the 2022-23 school year in the fall.

Board also approved $161,000 to buy equipment for career explorations labs at the middle school.


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