Williamsburg PPEL vote set for April 6
By ANDREA FURLONG
Taxpayers in the Williamsburg School District can cast their vote on the fate of Williamsburg Elementary School as early as this spring.
At a meeting held Feb. 10, the Williamsburg School Board approved holding a special election April 6, on the proposal to establish a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) of $1.34 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. The $3.5 million the PPEL would generate over 10 years would go toward construction of kindergarten and first grade classrooms at Mary Welsh Elementary. Currently, K-1 students attend Williamsburg Elementary, a building that is more than 70 years old and costs twice as much to heat as Mary Welsh.
Board members said the vote will be the public’s chance to weigh in on their preferred educational environment for the district’s kindergarten and first graders.
“If people want to move everything to Mary Welsh, this is the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether they think that’s a good idea,” said board president Tom Claypool.
Claypool noted the eventual accommodation of all students at Williamsburg Elementary was on the minds of board members when Mary Welsh was planned over 11 years ago.
“I was in on that discussion and I can tell you every step of the way the discussion was that someday this is going to be the one elementary school in the district and it had to be designed to be a K-12 building. The heating and cooling basic plan is big enough to handle that,” he said.
Board member Matt Blythe said he believed there is no question which learning school will best serve future kindergartners and first graders.
“You’re talking about a building that’s several years old and half air-conditioned. Mary Welsh is going to be heads and tails better in that respect,” Blythe said.
Claypool noted that in addition to improving the learning environment of lower elementary students, the move would also benefit the district’s finances.
“The savings you can realize from being more efficient energy-wise and maybe staffing-wise, the less pressure there will be on the school’s general fund,” he said.
A simple majority is needed to pass the proposed PPEL. If the vote does not pass, it could be held again in September, at the earliest.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
• The board approved the retirement of high school math teacher John Gillaspie, effective at the end of the school year. Gillaspie, who has taught 35 years in the district, is not eligible to receive the early retirement plan.
• Victor Amoroso, Jr., of A and J Associates, informed the board the high school swimming pool’s original pool water heating valve and its controls are not operating correctly and is in need of replacement. He said this work is outside the original scope of the project, which consisted of installation of a ventilation system inside the pool arena and other maintenance for approximately $330,000 of Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funds.
The board’s next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 17, in the high school library.
UPDATED February 17, 2010 10:57 AM