A potential November bond referendum to fund Albemarle County school projects shrank by $500,000 Wednesday after the Board of Supervisors voted instead to pay for high school capacity planning with cash.
The board voted, 5-0, to dedicate $100,000 in its Capital Improvement Program to high school planning in fiscal year 2017-18, and $400,000 in FY2018-19. Board member Rick Randolph abstained from the vote, he said, because he does not support the bond referendum.
The referendum itself — a $35 million list of projects that includes a $15.2 million addition to Woodbrook Elementary — began to take a clearer shape Wednesday. Supervisors asked staff to draft a resolution to add the project list to the CIP and settled on a referendum question that made a general reference to school projects, rather than detailing the entire list.
Randolph voted against adding the items to the CIP and abstained from voting on the referendum question wording.
Supervisor Brad Sheffield voted against the general wording, asking for more specificity.
“People are going to look for more detailed information,” he said. Sheffield asked that voters be given palm cards detailing each project at each polling place.
The county oversight committee last week recommended pulling the planning funding off the referendum, said Trevor Henry, county director of facilities and environmental services.
“Since there is some urgency to get that done, there was a recommendation to add that to the CIP, but not as a bond referendum project,” he said.
The county planning commission last week reached a consensus to support brick-and-mortar referendum items, but not planning.
The money was originally part of a $35.5 million list of projects the county is considering for a November bond referendum.
Randolph voted against the measure.
The capacity-planning money will be spent to determine whether the school division should expand Albemarle High School or build an entirely new school in the northern feeder pattern, school division officials said.
The division also will consider whether a magnet or charter school is appropriate in the northern feeder pattern, said Dean Tistadt, county schools chief operating officer.
Pulling the planning money off the referendum and into next year’s CIP allows schools staff to work more quickly, Tistadt said.
“This actually is a better scenario on a whole variety of different levels to allow us to get going on planning in FY17,” he said. “In a perfect world, I would have a solution ready to go to referendum in FY18.”
Board member Diantha McKeel applauded the move.
“I do support pulling out the $500,000 for the design study,” she said. “I think that makes a lot of sense.”
The supervisors will formally approve the resolution questions and a resolution asking the circuit court to order the referendum July 6. The county will begin public outreach in August. The general election is Nov. 8.