This letter was sent on March 22, 2023, from Martha Hooker, Chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, to Brent Hudson, Chairman of the Roanoke County School Board, concerning CIP projects involving the proposed Career and Technical Education Center and renovations to W. E. Cundiff and Glen Cove Elementary Schools.
Dear Chairman Hudson,
My fellow Board Members and I were quite disappointed to learn that the Roanoke County School
Board is giving consideration to removing the new Career and Technical Education Center (CTE) from its
Capital Improvement Program (CIP). This critical project is currently listed as the School Board’s top
priority in its FY23 CIP as well as the FY24 CIP approved by the schools on January 19, 2023.
The construction of a new CTE has been a critical priority for both the Roanoke County Board of
Supervisors and the Roanoke County School Board for years. The existing facility, constructed in phases
between 1962, 1969, and 1980 with minor additions and renovations in 1986 and 1989, is inadequate
both in its condition as well as in its capacity. As has been shared by RCPS on many occasions, hundreds
of students who apply to attend CTE are turned away each year due to lack of capacity. Recognizing this
critical need, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors and the Roanoke County School Board
appointed the Career and Technical Education Citizens Advisory Committee at a joint meeting on August
10, 2021 to work with both boards, the business community, and other stakeholders to advance this
critical project. After much diligent effort, and many interactions with the public and business
community, the CTE Citizens Advisory Committee made a series of recommendations regarding the
scope of a new CTE along with site recommendations and recommendations regarding solar energy
utilization at the new facility.
Based on the work of the committee, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors authorized the Roanoke
County School Board to negotiate the purchase of a parcel for the new CTE. This resulted in the ultimate
purchase of a site on Peters Creek Road for $4.13 million. This purchase was announced at a joint
meeting of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors and the Roanoke County School Board on July 12,
2022. In its announcement of this land acquisition, the Roanoke County School Superintendent
indicated the School Board’s desire to refine the scope of the project and work cooperatively with the
Board of Supervisors to secure the necessary funding to have this project underway by the fall of 2024.
Roanoke County’s business community, as well as current and future CTE students, and their parents
were thrilled to see this critical project moving forward. When businesses consider locating to Roanoke
County, the availability of a qualified, well-trained workforce is one of the most critical elements in their
decision making. The new CTE is intended to serve this exact need in a modern facility while expanding
capacity to serve the up to 300 students who are turned away each year due to lack of space.
While the Roanoke County School Board is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Roanoke
County Public School system, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has an important role to both
RCPS and the citizens of Roanoke County in decision making regarding the utilization of local tax revenue
for both school operations as well as school capital. Due to the critical community need for a new CTE,
the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors does not intend to make the necessary appropriations for
major capital or bonding authority for other RCPS priorities prior to doing so for CTE. The Roanoke
County Board of Supervisors also does not intend to approve a Capital Improvement Plan from RCPS
without CTE as the top priority.
The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors understands that the Roanoke County School Board would
like to make improvements to W.E. Cundiff and Glen Cove Elementary Schools to eliminate the open
classroom design. We fully support that desire and have offered funding to explore the potential for
immediate improvements to both schools as well as additional funding for RCPS to make longer term,
more substantial renovations.
While we share the Roanoke County School Board’s desire to make other capital improvements,
consistent priorities must be established and maintained in order to best meet the overall needs of
Roanoke County, and in order to deliver projects efficiently. Through section 22.1-79 of the Code of
Virginia, school boards are given the power and duty to erect necessary school buildings. The Roanoke
County Board of Supervisors and the Roanoke County School Board mutually agreed that CTE was the
top priority of both boards and millions of dollars have been spent to buy land for CTE and on A+E fees
for project development. In order to realize any benefit from this investment, the project must
efficiently move forward. While understanding that the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors does not
intend to appropriate capital funding for priorities other than CTE, or grant its bonding authority for
such projects, my fellow Board members and I remain willing to engage in collaborative discussions with
the School Board regarding future funding for other priorities.
The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors values the long term, collaborative, working relationship that
it has built with the Roanoke County School Board over many years. We look forward to working with
the Roanoke County School Board members to resolve our current differences and move forward
Chairman, Roanoke County Board of Supervisors