By Ted Shockley
Northampton County is moving forward with a plan to borrow $25 million to renovate the Eastville building housing its high school and middle school.
The crumbling school building has drawn the ire of parents and supporters critical of its condition — its two sections were constructed in 1954 and 1978.
Others, however, have been concerned that renovations or new additions would add to county debt incurred when it built several new municipal structures, including a jail, more than a decade ago.
But historially low interest rates and the steady annual decline in the amount of county debt service payments mean the new money won’t have a big impact on Northampton’s annual budget, officials said.
A county financial advisor at a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10 recommended the Board of Supervisors seek the money through the Virginia Public School Authority. Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the issue Oct. 8.
The county’s overall debt service would increase by roughly a half-million dollars in each of the Fiscal Years 2023 through 2025.
Northampton County is paying almost $3 million in debt service this year.
The school’s issues range from leaky roofs to structural problems.
Board Chairman Spencer Murray said the project would focus on a combination of renovations, demolition and additions — he said a second gymnasium to accommodate middle-school students is needed.
He said the county’s overall financial condition is good — it has $10 million in savings.