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Winchester approves tax hike to fund high school renovation
Brenda J. Buote, The Boston Globe
December 11, 2013
-- Local voters overwhelmingly approved a property tax hike Tuesday that will fund a $129.9 million overhaul of Winchester High School, the most expensive school construction project in the town’s history.
The vote of 5,098 to 2,402 in the special town election will add up to $847 to the annual property tax bill for the average single-family home. Each of the town’s eight precincts supported the debt exclusion, a temporary tax hike that will last as long as the debt. More than half the town’s 14,507 registered voters cast ballots.
The renovation and addition to the high school are needed to accommodate growing enrollment, said School Superintendent William H. McAlduff Jr. He anticipates that by 2017 approximately 163 more students will attend Winchester High School, designed to serve 1,017 students but now housing about 1,150.
The changes at the high school are designed to allow for 1,370 students. They will give the high school upgraded electrical, plumbing, heating, and ventilation systems, as well as new science labs, a music suite, a dining area, and an expanded media center.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority has authorized up to $44.5 million for the project, and Winchester will fund the $85.4 million balance. Winchester already faces a high tax rate. The average tax bill is expected to rise to $10,191 in fiscal 2014, which began July 1, town officials said, making it among the highest in the state.
School Board halts eminent domain for ES-27 property
Andrew Sharbel, Loudoun Times
December 10, 2013
-- The Loudoun County School Board on Dec. 3 ended difficult negotiations with the landowners of the Lim and Park property that would have allowed for the construction of an elementary school in Ashburn.
The action stopped all activities relating to the pending condemnation of the property.
The School Board had voted June 25 to use eminent domain to acquire the 17-acre site off Belmont Ridge Road where ES-27 was slated to be build.
According to a Times-Mirror report in June, the property owners had received an undisclosed offer of $4.5 million at that time. The School Board had offered $1.5 million, and the county assessor had valued the land and the single-family home on the property at $2.18 million. The Lim and Park trustees made a counteroffer of $3.75 million to the School Board.
School Board member Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) explained the reasoning behind dropping the property from consideration.
“I am sure constituents have questions as far as why we are backing out of this process now. Effectively what you have is landowners are trying to get the highest price and we are trying to get a reasonable and fair price,” Kuesters said. “We used the tool that we had in the form of eminent domain which is afforded to government both local and state to try and do our job which is site schools and get land.”
While the School Board was trying to use eminent domain, the landowner has other ideas, instead entering into a contract with a developer.
Kuesters added the landowner was asking for an unreasonable price for the property, and there seems to be a misperception among property owners.
School Board approves lawsuit against county over high school site
Lauren Roth, Orlando Sentinel
December 10, 2013
-- The Orange County School Board approved taking legal action against the county Tuesday night after commissioners rejected plans for a high school in the West Windermere Rural Settlement.
Orange County Public Schools leaders want to build on a 69-acre parcel where Winter Garden-Vineland Road turns and meets Ficquette Road. It would relieve West Orange High, the county's largest high school with 3,746 students. School officials say the site, which the district owns, is centrally situated for the students it would serve and is the best site of 10 considered.
Three neighbors urged the School Board to drop the fight, while three parents said the district should pursue legal action if that is the fastest way to open a school.
"We need the school, and we need it quickly," said Lisa Morrison, the West Orange High PTSO president, who said she was dismayed at the opposition. "Schools are our community."
School Boundary Process Expected To Come Quietly To A Close
Staff Writer, Lessburg Today
December 10, 2013
-- The redrawing of school attendance boundaries in Loudoun County has most often been a divisive process that pits neighbors against neighbors, school board members against school board members and, in recent years, is followed by lawsuits from unhappy families.
But the redrawn attendance boundaries for elementary schools in the South Riding area are scheduled to be approved tonight without a hitch.
The Loudoun County School Board must redraw the attendance boundaries in that part of the county to relieve overcrowded schools and prepare for Cardinal Ridge Elementary School, which will open next fall adjacent to J. Michael Lunsford Middle School in South Riding.
The only plan under consideration, called School Board Plan 2, has been posted on the school system’s website for more than a week and Planning and Legislative Services Department Executive Director Sam Adamo said Monday his staff has not received one email about it. “It’s been pretty quiet.”
Most school attendance boundary changes draw hundreds of parents and students to the school boardroom to speak at public hearings, many dressed in the same color T-shirts as their neighbors to show unified support for one particular plan over another. Facebook pages are created, and School Board members’ inboxes are filled with several hundred emails.
The board’s final public hearing on its proposed attendance plan for South Riding Monday evening lasted little more than 10 minutes as just one person spoke on the matter.
Diane Hill, a bus driver, urged the board to adopt a boundary plan that keeps the students who live on Peach Orchard Drive near Aldie at Aldie Elementary School. She said any more buses on the gravel road would make it unsafe. “It could get pretty complicated,” she said.
The plan likely to be adopted tonight does not reassign students who attend Aldie Elementary.
9 W.Va. counties receive school renovation grants
Associated Press, Times Leader Online
December 10, 2013
-- he West Virginia School Building Authority has awarded more than $4 million for school renovation projects in nine counties.
The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/19eCUeJ ) reports that the SBA approved grants on Monday for projects in Grant, Harrison, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Raleigh and Ritchie counties.
The SBA also awarded more than $2 million to seven projects that are regional or statewide in scope. The funding includes $234,950 awarded to the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind for a new roof, gutter replacement and other renovations.
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