No delay foreseen in opening new Warren County Middle School despite budget cuts

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — When the countyís 2016-17 budget was approved, about $204,000 was cut from proposed funds to open the new middle school. Operation and staffing costs necessary to open the school total $1.5 million.

With the $204,000 reduction, the county needs to raise about $900,000 of the $1.5 million necessary to open the middle school. County Administrator Doug Stanley and School Superintendent Greg Drescher are both confident the school will be opened by the scheduled 2017 date.

Drescher said the $1.5 million will fund personnel and bills for electric, water, sewer and phone. He said the money is needed for the 2017-18 budget year, by this time next year.

"By building funding into the budget this year and next year, the Board of Supervisors has given us a head start on meeting our financial obligations," Stanley said.

Stanley said the supervisors fully understand the coming year's financial obligations. He applauded the board for setting aside funding for the school over the past two years.

The county was not prepared to absorb operational costs for the opening of Skyline High School and renovation of Warren County High School in 2007, Stanley said. He said the county did a great job preparing for the anticipated debt service, but did not properly prepare staffing and facility maintenance costs.

"I think both the county and school board staff have been working to ensure that this scenario did not happen to us again. What is the old adage, 'fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me'," Stanley said.

Stanley said the new middle school will be the top priority when the county starts on the 2017-18 budget this fall.

He said there are positive signs in the local economy including: the ITFederal project, ALDI Grocery opening, Toray expansion, Hidden Springs nursing expansion, the new Interchange warehouse and a recent surge in new home starts.

All the developments "point to an improving tax base, which hopefully will provide some additional revenue in the coming years," Stanley said.

Drescher said he prefers not to ìMonday morning quarterbackî whether or not the county is procrastinating on opening the middle school.

"How the funds are generated is certainly the BOS prerogative. I know they have many items to consider and juggle. Unless any of us are sitting in their seats, it is difficult to know the entire picture," Drescher said.

Drescher said he has faith in the Board of Supervisors, and is confident the school will be open on time.

"Look at our recent history, so much has been done to make our community a wonderful place," he said.

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