Lynchburg Council Members Say Elementary School Renovations Will Have to Wait

Lynchburg, VA- Lynchburg City Schools officials would like to see three elementary schools get renovated in three years. The $26 million renovation plan was presented during Tuesday night's joint city council and school board meeting.

But it looks like these renovations won't happen anytime soon. City officials say the money just isn't in the budget for the projects, mostly because of the $80 million Heritage High School project.

"Our debt pool is fixed. If we can take a little bit away from that then we can add a little bit more back in the form of another project. But the cup's full," said Councilman Turner Perrow.

In this case, an overflowing cup isn't a good thing. The city's credit card is already maxed out with more than $80 million for Heritage High School and several million more for repairs to school roofs and City Stadium's football complex.

"We're looking at borrowing probably close to $100 million next spring," said Kimball Payne, Lynchburg's City Manager.

So $8 million in renovations each at Sandusky, Linkhorne and Paul Munro Elementary Schools will most likely have to wait a couple years.

"I think they would rather move forward but I think they understand the fiscal situation we're in. We just have to wait and see how it works out," said Payne.

That's unless city council can solve this math problem by moving funds around, which probably won't make the school board happy either.

"If we're trying to put together Sandusky Elementary School, or some other projects that the schools think are very important, we can offset costs, reduce the cost of Heritage High School so we can include an additional project," said Perrow.

But in city council's effort to avoid raising taxes, they say one thing at a time is the safest bet.

"Complete the design of Heritage High School, get a bid, get it under construction, get the borrowing done, and then see where we stand after that," said Payne.

Payne says most likely they will have to defer the elementary school renovations for at least five years, but there's no exact timeline. They just have to see where they are after Heritage High School is built and paid for.

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