Roanoke County School Board discusses future CTE project

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 11:34 PM EST
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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke County Public Schools will have a new and improved Burton Center for Arts and Technology in the coming years. RCPS bought more than 20 acres along Peters Creek Road in July 2022 for the future project.

At a work session Thursday afternoon, the School Board heard from RRMM Architects about the work they’ve done and the suggestions they have.

“From that, created what we feel like is a reasonable footprint of about 155,000 square feet give or take,” said Chris Phillips, principal of RRMM’s Roanoke office.

RRMM estimated the square footage cost would be around $62 million, but total construction cost to be closer to $90 million.

“Soft cost would include furniture, fixtures and equipment, some contingencies and then of course your fees for testing, inspections, permits, design fees and at that size back in October, we were north of $90 million total,” said Phillips.

School Board members are hoping they can cut the cost.

“We’d love to come in, in the 80 range,” said Tim Greenway, vice-chairman of the board.

“Obviously we want functionality more than anything. It’s the public’s money, we gotta be fiscally responsible with that and we’ve got other infrastructure needs at hand that we’re talking about. So we want to try to make the most out of what we can,” said Brent Hudson, chairman of the board.

The discussion turned to what programs currently included in the plan could make way for others. HVAC space is currently included in the 155,000-square-foot plan but collision repair is not.

“Within our community of Roanoke, we have other avenues for those students who are pursuing performing arts. We have Mill Mountain Theatre. We don’t have an HVAC school; we don’t have a collision repair school. I love the arts, performing arts in particular, but I just don’t see how that’s going to serve our community, in the best interest of our community and be fiscally responsible,” said Cheryl Facciani, a board member.

The bottom line though from the School Board, is that they don’t want to mess this up.

“I just don’t want to make a mistake. I hope somebody will put the brakes on this if we start moving to a point where it’s not benefitting our citizens and our students,” said Greenway.

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has already approved $63 million for the project, with another one-time annual $17 million payment to RCPS, bringing the total to $80 million.

RCPS is hoping to bring a plan with the CTE Center along with two new elementary schools to the board of supervisors to discuss how to fund it all.

These discussions are still in the early stages but the hope is that construction can begin on the new CTE Center in the summer of 2024.