Faced with a mounting list of facility needs, Roanoke County school leaders are gently nudging the county to consider reevaluating its long-standing approach to project financing.
In a joint sit-down Tuesday, the county school board shared a new internal analysis that estimated it could take 20 years or more to tackle the school division’s renovation needs under the current financing plan.
“I don’t know how we get there with the existing models we’re using and the existing funding streams,” school board Chairman Don Butzer said.
“We’re asking if you’ll think about what other tools you might have in the toolbox to help us solve this problem.”
The board of supervisors, which is undertaking an in-depth review of county capital needs, agreed to meet with the school board again this fall to continue the discussion.
By that point, it will have the results of its own recently initiated study of county-owned facilities and will have a fuller picture of the competing demands it must juggle as it moves forward.
No immediate changes would be made. The budgets and capital improvement plans for the coming year are already set.
“We’ve been studying this, and we’re going to continue to study it,” county supervisors Chairman Phil North said after Tuesday’s joint work session.
The supervisors will give the school board’s question serious consideration, he added, but must balance it along with other looming needs to arrive at a sustainable plan.
“We’re going to take a look at everything on the table,” North said. “Then see what we need to do.”
Currently, the county adheres to an internal debt management policy, dubbed the 10-10-10 system.
The policy caps borrowing for both county and school projects at $10 million per year. Use of that money rotates between the two camps — the schools use the money every two out of three years. The county is on deck in the third year.
The school division put its last $20 million allotment toward the Cave Spring High School renovation now under construction.
This year is a county borrowing year, and the money has been earmarked for the replacement of a flood-prone general services building.
No specific proposals to edit or expand the county’s financing policies were broached Tuesday.
Butzer stressed the school board was grateful for the years of support that the stable partnership with the county has offered it.
“There are no complaints there,” he said. “But what we wanted to do today is present where we are and what we think our needs are. We needed to talk about it.”
The school division has a list of nine other school renovations it hopes to tackle over time after Cave Spring High.