October 4, 2012
Although no new applications have been made by Carroll County officials, additional funding for the Phase III renovations of Carroll County High School and Carroll County Intermediate School is available through federal funding agency Rural Development.
The Carroll County Board of Supervisors originally authorized a $26.7 million Phase III project for the renovations of CCIS and CCHS and the closing of Woodlawn School in June of 2010, contingent upon the use of Rural Development funds and Build America Bonds. Anticipated funding from Rural Development ultimately fell through, however, when federal stimulus dollars ran out. The Carroll County School Board instead scaled the project back to $15 million after receiving a Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) in that same amount with zero percent interest over 16 years.
However, Rural Development Area Director Travis Jackson said the original application of $26.7 million was never closed, and could still be used for additional funding for school projects that may go above and beyond the $15 million. According to Jackson, Carroll County agencies have talked about using some of those funds.
“Right now it is still in the preliminary stages. We never did completely withdraw that application (of $26.7 million) that was originally placed for the schools. We just sort of put everything on hold to see if the (Carroll County Industrial Development Authority) working with the school board needed any additional money,” Jackson said. “We haven’t gotten a new application from them at all. It is still out there, but not active. There have been some discussions about some additional improvements above what the QSCB money could pay for, and we would certainly do anything in our power to help them receive money over and above what they got from the state.”
Carroll County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Strader Blankenship said he wasn’t aware of any movement in the school board or Carroll County IDA looking to request additional funds at this time. However, he said it wouldn’t hurt his feelings if the HVAC system could be upgraded or replaced at the high school, which has used the same HVAC system since it opened in 1969.
“I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. We have been talking with the board of supervisors all along about our issues through HVAC and those kinds of things,” Blankenship said. “The high school needs a complete HVAC upgrade and overhaul.”
The original plans for the HVAC system in the $26.7 million renovation proposal that fell through included between $4.5 million and $5 million for HVAC, Blanksenship said. The current HVAC setup at CCHS runs on a two-pipe system, Blankenship said, which means whenever the decision is made to change over from heating to cooling or vice versa, it can’t be changed back easily if the weather reverses course.
“What most systems have now is a 4-pipe system and that lets you choose back and forth depending on the weather outside that day,” Blankenship said.
Richard Slate, Executive Director of the Carroll County IDA, said he wasn’t aware of any looming plans to request additional funds for school improvements. However, he was pleased to hear that Rural Development dollars are available if needed.
“That sounds like good news,” Slate said.