harlottesville City Council and the School Board largely agreed Wednesday that the planned reconfiguration project is necessary and that the project should cost, at a minimum, $50 million.

Thus, Wednesday’s work session on the topic focused on the scope of the project, how much the city could afford and what level of tax rate increase city taxpayers would support.

“My child was at Walker [Upper Elementary School],” vice mayor Sena Magill said. “I know exactly how miserable these buildings feel. They feel like they were built during a time when these schools were built looking like prisons.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first time the two elected bodies have discussed the reconfiguration project in detail since a $50 million placeholder was included in the five-year capital improvement program. Councilors have wrestled with the affordability of that project and competing capital priorities for months.

Charlottesville-based firm VMDO Architects is designing the project, which would add sixth grade to Buford Middle School, move the fifth grade to the elementary schools and convert Walker into an early childhood education center. At the work session, Wyck Knox with VMDO walked attendees through a truncated presentation from what was presented at the School Board’s retreat last week, and helped to facilitate the conversation around key questions such as the project’s budget range.