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Lynchburg City Council and City School Board Special Called Meeting August 8, 2023

Lynchburg City Council and City School Board Special Called Meeting
August 8, 2023
II. LCS Facilities Master Plan presentation Dr Lance Richards, Project Manager MGT Consulting
Dr Lance presented the background and influences on the facilities plan, including some demographics.
Highlighted changes in population by age (but not location) and school enrollment by grade.
Indicates an overall projected decline in enrollment of 414 students over next 10 years, primarily in high school grades (257).
Community Engagement sessions indicate strong support for neighborhood schools.
Report stresses increased opportunities for CTE and early Childhood programs, as well as increased investment in Alternative Education services, probably consolidated in a single location.
Other considerations included need to physically address student discipline, programming for Virtual education and STEM/STEAM project based learning. (this seems to come at the expense of liberal arts courses!) Retention of employees across the board and student retention also were considered, but did not directly relate to facilities.
Report stressed possibilities for Public-Private Partnerships to provide early childhood and CTE programs.
Report also mentioned ‘programmatic alignment’ which seems to sort middle schools into differentiated emphasis of educational opportunities. (Could this become the new tracking? How would this affect transportation? Attendance numbers? Many questions here, but not addressed in this meeting.)
Finally got to the facilities!
2 school are under-utilized (Bedford Hills, Dearington)
4 schools have fewer than 225 students
Several schools scored poorly on ‘suitabilty’ scale
Facility conditions are poor at Sandusky ES and Linkhorne ES.
Four scenarios have been presented to the public, the School Board and Council. These were each discussed in the breakout sessions, identifying individual’s priorities and developing a framework for further consideration.

III. Breakout Session
Four groups discussed each of the scenarios, indicating individual levels of concern for specific criteria (e.g., removal of temporary classrooms, cost, transportation time/distance, etc)
Consensus was reached in support of
• ‘close to home’ neighborhood schools,
• some consideration of rebuilding Sandusky Elementary rather than eliminating the building (although it ranked low in condition)
• support of increasing CTE/STEM/STEAM programing, in partnership with private sector.
Scenario 1 was viewed as too expensive, replacing SES, and adding Pre-K. However, three groups voiced concern for the effects on a n already traumatized population (violence, Covid-19) Helgeson and Misjuns dismissed this aspect.
Scenario 2 was generally favored as it allows for renovation of high-needs buildings, impacts the fewest number of schools. However, the optics of closing DESI and/or TCMES is not good and complicates transportation. Misjuns stated that TCMES needs an auditorium if it is to have performing arts as a focus. Also, some commented that this option was not comprehensive.
Scenario 3 had support for higher savings overall, particularly from Helgeson, who considered only the dollars expended/saved as he controlled the discussion in his group. Again, Misjuns wants TCMES to have an auditorium. Other comments included that this plan has a good mix of renovation and replacement, closures and reuse, including Pre-K in plan. Some concern was expressed about the calendar at Bass ES. There was some support for closure of TCMES and SES.
Scenario 4 was recognized as having the lowest community support even while saving the City the most money (Helgeson: best return on investment). “A good package disliked by community.” Some discussion of closing DESI and how rezoning would occur. Overall, only Helgeson seemed to favor this plan.
Comments by Helgeson (with some agreement from Misjuns) indicate that he may disregard the proposals altogether and make a counter proposal based primarily on cost and potential savings to the City.
IV. Report Out
Dr Edwards stated that the goal is to have a complete plan by Fall of 24, prior to City budget deliberations, including consideration of consolidation, redistricting and programming. To accomplish this, she needs a clear direction by November 1, 2023.

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Lynchburg City Council Public Meeting June 13, 2023

Lynchburg City Council Public Meeting

June 13, 2023

III. Consent agenda approved without discussion

  1. Public Meeting

IV.4 Community Development Block Grant / HOME appropriations approved. ($711k and $470k)

IV.5 Rezoning certain parcels in the Tate Springs and Langhorne Road area for the expansion of the Centra Health Medical Campus.

Council members Helgeson, Dolan and Wilder each stated that they served on various boards related to Centra, but stated they could deliberate objectively.

This proposal was approved by the planning commission on April 12 and presented to Council on May 23, as part of a $500 million investment.

Council members made general statements of support for Centra as a key stakeholder in the City, fostering job creation.

Helgeson raised concerns about “parking lots in people’s backyards” and concerns that neighbors would have very limited opportunity for future input under I-2 zoning as Conditional Use Permits are not required under I-2 zoning.  (It is unclear if he raised the same concerns when he initiated similar zoning changes for TRBC.) He asked for clarification about any height restrictions in Centra’s plan and was eventually convinced that no plans for a building higher than 5 stories were anticipated.

After the presentation and clarification about how the changes in zoning from Business to Institutional-2 affect permitted growth,

Council approved (7-0) rezoning various sites including the former Holy Cross School site for development by Centra Health to expand their medical campus.

IV.6 Approval of VA Department of Health Drinking Water State Revolving Fund FY2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Lead Service Line Inventory Funds.

This involves the use of a $100k grant (with potential max loan of $600k) to inventory 22,000 water delivery/service lines for the presence of lead. Does not include funds for testing and/or replacement.  The fiscal impact is the repayment of the loan.  The inventory is required by 2021 EPA rules which also require that the City develop a plan for abatement should it be necessary.

Misjuns asked, “What would be the result if we didn’t do it?”  The result would probably be a legal action by EPA resulting in a fine and order for compliance.  Misjuns then suggested that the City “sue EPA to pay for it” blaming President Biden for the rules.

The motion passed, 5-2, with Misjuns and Faraldi voting no.  [no concern for citizens who might be drinking lead-contaminated water!]

  1. Public Comments

V.7 Brandon Jones advocated for police to patrol certain areas on foot (Park/Kemper) as drug dealing and use is rising, along with other crimes. Also wants more treatment access.

V.8  Robert Flood advocated for more cameras to be installed in hot spots, particularly in Ward II.  He also supports the implementation of the curfew and asked if LPD would consider placing (adjunct) precincts in these neighborhoods.

V.10 FJ Jalil asked about how the City is monitoring interactions between youth and police and suggested the curfew ordinance might be voided for its vagueness.  He stated that there is a need for continuous evaluation and adjustment. He said that a systematic review of 29 studies indicates that curfews can have an adverse effect on mental health. Consistency in implementation is important to the success of a curfew and should be questioned with monthly reports to Council, stressing the positive outcomes.

V.11 Skipper Holt addressed the lack of quality candidates for LPD, LFD and LCS Board and teachers. He stated that we all want quality education in Lynchburg and noted that although Council had recently increased funds for LPD and LFD, they had reduced funds for LCS by $1.4 million.  He opined that this is the wrong path.


  1. General Business

VI.12 Approval of interviews of candidates for School Board.

Interviews are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, June 20 and 21, open to the public.

VI.13 Amending LCS Major Funding Classification Funding FY2024

This is a request from LCS to move $705,385 from Administration and $629,471 from Technology to Instruction to “increase the amount of funds in the instruction category which are needed to support salaries and benefits for teachers, school counselors, instructional assistants, and other student services and school-based personnel.”

Faraldi said the new method of appropriating funds to schools “seems to be working.” This is the “largest investment in the teaching category ever.”

Helgeson clarified that this recategorization of $1.3 million was not new money, just moving from one area to another.

Misjuns said he is pleased with the dialogue with the Superintendent, but then spun the funds as a huge increase in instruction.

Dolan addressed Misjuns statement repeating that this $1.3 million is not new money, just reclassification from administration to instruction.

Passed 7-0

VI.14 Second reading of the FY 2024 Budget, for adoption

Recap of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process, noting hiccups along the way.  The budget was set for approval 3 weeks ago but concerns about CIP stopped the approval.  Reed noted a phone call at that time that indicated a desire by Misjuns, Helgeson, Taylor and Faraldi to change their previous vote of approval thus postponing the finalization of the budget.  She was critical of the lack of communication (she was excluded from that phone call) and transparency in the process.

She said they would focus on the CIP in the FY2024 budget only.

Reed presented two options.

  1. Approve the budget as presented by staff and previously deliberated and approved by Council, or
  2. Specify each item in the CIP to be considered, pushing some things off to the future. She mentioned items presented as ‘essential-now or essential-later.’

Among the essential-now, she included safety, beautification, and investment in downtown.

Taylor stated that he was “pleased” to pass FY2024 budget and move forward.

Misjuns just criticized the mayor for her lack of communication saying he had not had one phone call from her since January 1.

Helgeson proposed a reduction of $10 million with 3.5 million in projects to defer for future consideration.  He suggested that funds for downtown beautification be reduced from $6 million to $2 million.  He also said “don’t replace things until they need to be replaced” [contrary to his criticism of LCS postponement of maintenance at Paul Monroe School.]  He continued by saying that the City was “getting paid to wait” because it would earn more money by “sitting on cash.” [presumes that costs will come down]

Wilder repeated the value of investments in the downtown area, saying that “some people have voted ‘no’ for years” [referring to Helgeson’s past votes on budgets].  He stated his support for the original motion by Taylor to pass the budget as presented.

Helgeson’s motion failed 2-5; the Original motion passed 4-3.




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Lynchburg City Council Work Session 6/13/23

Lynchburg City Council

Work Session


III. Work Session Agenda Items

III.1 Centra Health Improvement Plan

III.2 Proposed FY24 CIP

Helgeson advocates for postponement of maintenance when he previously was critical of the same at PMES

“As revenues come in less, we need to be more judicial in pour spending now.” [!! Brought on by his cut in tax rate!]

[In discussion, eliminating future projects (‘necessary-later’) or deferring another year continues the deferring the cuts required by revenue reduction. This is short-term thinking by Helgeson.]

He wants to stop at the legally required allocation of first year of CIP, and kick the rest down the road.  [creates an more urgent discussion in the future when CIP projects become emergent.  Less stability]

Wilder: planning and investment created an improved “Main Street” downtown area over the past 20 years. Praise for Donna Witt and other staff. Others don’t trust in our government process and people. Keep moving forward.

Dolan: $168million has already been taken out of CIP by D Witt! Call it what it is – cuts to pay for the tax cut.

Misjuns: streetscaping is not related to safety issue of water pressure for fire suppression. [However, surfaces are unsafe] Objects to brick and suggests printed asphalt instead like Wyndhurst. $50million in coasts will not be recouped in “future generation of revenue.” Need to back out expensive tastes because of lower budget [due to tax cuts].

Benda: this is along process of long-term planning to invest in downtown. There has been a progression and businesses have expectations based on previous planning. Downtowns are the “Character of the City.” Downtown charm is created by the aesthetic.

Misjuns objects to the beautification of downtown saying “downtown is subsidized by others.”  “I am sick and tired of taking money to pay for Boonsboro’s playground.”[divisive and hostile]

Faraldi: takes exception with Misjuns’s characterization of downtown as Boonsboro’s playground, says he takes it personally.

Suggests targeting the pay-as-you-go items and reduce $6.2 to eliminate utility tax. Staff says this is not possible.

Helgeson: names examples of firms who have left downtown [all of which were prior to downtown improvements, and many left or dissolved for other reasons] [Helgeson has no sense of the value of aesthetics]


  1. Business Item Briefing(s)

IV.3 Dunbar MS HVAC renovations

IV.4 Request to amend LCS Major Classifications

IV.5 Sale of City-owned Early Street property

IV.6 2023 Bond Anticipation Note

IV.7 Lynchburg Adult Drug Court (LADC) opioid funding proposal

  1. Roll Call
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May 15 Caucus cancelled

With singular candidates filing for each House of Delegates seat and no filings for the local constitutional offices, the caucuses scheduled for May 15th are cancelled.  Look soon for information about our candidates and their campaigns!