The VB City Council votes to postpone the construction of the school

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Council members are divided over delays at three old schools.

During their meeting Tuesday night, the council voted 5-3 to delay the design process for 120 days for the three school buildings.

Design-build would accelerate the renovation process at Princess Anne Middle School, BF Williams Elementary/Bayside 6th and Bayside Middle School.

The temporary contract is worth $15 million. Those funds have been approved, but some on the council want more time to discuss the process and design direction.

“This is low risk. The approximately $15 million needed to fund the design for this is already available. This vote does not commit the city or the school board to advance any of those designs,” VBCPS Chief Operating Officer Jack Freeman said during the council meeting. .

Freeman explained Tuesday night that creating the design is a six- to eight-month process that includes total material costs for all three schools. If the interim agreement is delayed, the additional cost could be tens of millions of dollars.

“Why spend money on a design that the not-too-distant future school board may decide is not the design we want,” Councilman John Moss asked.

Deputy Mayor Rosemary Wilson wants to wait until the city gets more answers.

“We’re not talking about a long time, we’re talking about a few months to be careful,” Wilson said.

Councilman Aaron Rouse spoke quickly along with Councilwoman Delceno Miles, Councilwoman Guy Tower and Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten.

“What does an election have to do with caring about our schools, our teachers, our students, our communities?” Rouse asked.

Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten told 10 On Your Side she’s concerned about the delay.

“Delay sometimes leads to denial, and it just seems like that delay strategy never really leads to the right answer,” Wooten said.

Wooten says the 120-day delay gives council members a chance to discuss the project at length during a January retreat, but she doesn’t think it’s the right move.

“We don’t usually do a lot during our retreats. This is not something that I think we need to call on that platform. We have the funds to provide a new facility, to address student issues, and we’re not doing that,” Wooten explained.

Like Rouse, Wooten worries about how the delay will affect students and what inflation will do to the overall cost.

“If we do it later, it’s going to cost us more money, more money if we don’t design right now. We’re allowing our schools to compete for other priorities in the city. We’re talking about two schools in a predominantly minority community, a part of our city where these schools have been on the modernization list for so long,” Rouse said during Tuesday’s formal meeting.

Wooten says she feels sorry for the students who will continue to be without enough facilities.

“We have an opportunity to act now. Why don’t we act now,” Wooten concluded.

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