Henry County Public Schools
Capital Improvement Plan
May 2023 Update
This Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) provides a recommended framework for undertaking major capital improvements over the next five years. The following goals continue to guide planning and prioritization of the CIP.
1. Provide a safe, healthy, and inviting learning environment for students, staff, parents, and community.
2. Protect infrastructure and ensure the proper operation of all critical building systems.
3. Ensure that facilities are energy efficient.
4. Ensure that facilities are equipped for current instructional and administrative technologies.
Facility needs are informed by input from principals and administrators, facilities staff, and a range of consultants in the field. In the past, Cornett & Cundiff, Inc. has performed a survey of the roofs in the school division and has worked with school division personnel to estimate costs and determine timelines for the replacement of this critical building component. Moseley Architects have complete full facilities assessments to identify structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing needs for all school sites. The last comprehensive facilities assessment in 2011 allowed Henry County Public Schools (HCPS) to develop a multi-year plan for meeting capital improvement needs. In 2021, HCPS awarded architectural contracts, through an RFP process, to RRMM Architects and Crabtree, Rohrbaugh, and Associates. Crabtree will be completing a new facilities assessment during the spring and summer of 2022. This assessment will be reviewed by the School Board of Henry County, and the findings of this assessment will once again provide an outline for how to meet the school division’s capital needs for the foreseeable future.
The current CIP is a bridge between the Moseley (2011) facilities assessment and the forthcoming Crabtree facilities assessment. The delay in the delivery of the Crabtree assessment is attributed to detrimental turnover and employee attrition within the ranks of the engineers and contractors that are to provide input on the facilities assessment. In the meantime, projects that had been deferred, such as the Bassett High School HVAC renovations and HVAC renovations at both middle schools, have been able to move forward because of the influx of federal funding sources to address air quality in our learning environments. Additionally, projects related to compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and new construction projects, such as the elevator projects and the field house projects, have new funding sources available and are now under design.
The recent history of the funding for the CIP can be compared readily to the swinging of a pendulum. Prior to the 2007, the combination of state funding and stimulus funding and low-interest rates provided a healthy fiscal environment for capital projects. The economic downturn that began in 2007, however, resulted in the overall deterioration of the revenue streams that could support capital improvements. Therefore, Henry County Public Schools relied on savings found within its operating budget to expend on capital projects. While the school division was able to address critical facility needs and complete some projects identified in the CIP, there was a general awakening to the fact that the CIP could not rely solely on money saved elsewhere but that the overall operating budget needed to secure funding for the exclusive purpose of attending to the CIP. As the economy began to rebound 2016-2017, the School Board secured additional funding for Facilities in the operating budget and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Board of Supervisors to safeguard the return of the first $500,000 of unexpended funds of a fiscal year to the Facilities category in the next fiscal year. The MOU essentially converts in-year savings from one year to funding that can be directed towards the CIP in the next year.
In FYs 2019, 2020, and 2021, the approved school board budget increased funding for capital projects and facility renovations. In the fall of 2020, Henry County citizens voted to pass a 1% sales tax to provide additional revenues for new school construction and major renovations. This revenue stream is estimated to generate more than $4 million per year. Federal relief funding related to the world-wide pandemic has also put Henry County Public Schools in a position to address long-standing, long-deferred HVAC and air quality projects, such as air conditioning system replacements and system upgrades. In addition to the 1% sales tax revenue and federal relief funding for HVAC and air quality projects, a new funding source from the state sets aside funds for school construction. In summary, there has been a significant increase in the availability of funds for capital improvement projects.
The construction market has been turbulent since the onset of the pandemic in the Spring of 2019, and three pandemic-related phenomena are currently at play in the market. Disruptions to supply chains have resulted in significant cost increases, delays in material availability, and an inability for quotes on building materials to remain stable for more than a few weeks. Additionally, many contractors have experienced the same attrition within their ranks that all other industries are experiencing. Whether the loss of workers is temporary, due to Covid-related illness or quarantine, or more permanent, as in employees leaving the area or changing jobs, contractors are ultimately faced with the difficulty of completing work with a shortage of manpower. The final disruptive factor at play in the market has been the unprecedented influx of federal relief funding available to school divisions and businesses for construction and renovation projects related to combatting the effects of the pandemic. Because so many entities have been recipients of relief funding, there has been a perceptible rush to initiate projects that had either been deferred for years or that had not been previously conceived. As a result, there are log jams from the architectural design phase through the construction phase because so many buyers are able to initiate projects at the same time. Therefore, while the outlook for the Capital Improvement Plan is positive in terms of the availability of revenue, this positivity may be held in check by competition in the market for limited supplies, price increases, and general increases in demand.
Cost estimates noted with projects in this plan should be considered placeholders. The best estimates are obtained after the preparation of working drawing (bid documents), and the true cost is determined through the competitive bid process.
The rank-order of the projects listed below has been informed by input from the public, the members of the School Board, participants on the Superintendent’s Cabinets, the Division Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendent of Operations, the Director of Facilities Maintenance, and the Director of Finance. In so much as possible, the projects on the Capital Improvement Plan list are completed according to the order of listing; however, the availability of appropriate funding, the amount of anticipated disruption to the learning environment, and the availability of contractors are all contributing factors in determining which projects are undertaken the soonest. Additionally, some projects identified in the facilities assessments have conditional recommendations related to factors such as changes in enrollment patterns, trends for usage, and the availability of intermediate remedies instead of major renovations.
The following timelines are hypothetical and predicated on the assumption that the division will increase its Facilities Category over each of the next five fiscal years. The following tables provide a description of projects, status, costs, and recommended timelines for each project. In some cases, projects are bundled for similar types of work or because of advantages related to logistics.