Board gives timeline for school renovations
The Board of Supervisors is expected to get information this week from the School Board to fill in the final blanks in the new draft comprehensive plan, with a public hearing on the plan scheduled for a week from today.
The school system is now on the same page as the county government after the School Board voted last week to change the way it details its plans for new or upgraded facilities over the next several years.
The revisions affected the school system’s portion of the Public Facilities Plan, a key chapter of the comprehensive plan. The changes were aimed at presenting the school division’s proposed projects and timelines in the same format as other county government departments.
David Myers, assistant school superintendent for business and finance, told the School Board that the revisions were “really a continuation of nine months of work” that began when the Board of Supervisors rejected a previous draft comp plan earlier this year.
The school system originally presented those projects in “clusters” expected to be undertaken from 2013-17, 2018-22 and after 2022.
As presented now, in the 2014-20 period, the plan proposes to revitalize or replace seven elementary schools (Beulah, Crestwood, Enon, Ettrick, Harrowgate, Matoaca and Reams), two middle schools (Manchester and Providence) and no high schools.
Only one new school would be built, an elementary school in the vicinity of Old Hundred and Otterdale roads.
The board also inserted a paragraph noting that Monacan High School is the only high school in the county that was not “renovated, replaced or newly constructed within the past 15 years” and “needs to be modernized as funding becomes available.”
Another major change was the deletion of three tables that presented information about enrollment and capacity at elementary, middle and high schools, respectively. School Board members were concerned that people who look at the comp plan might be misled by the figures.
David Wyman, who represents the Dale District, noted that the numbers in the tables change from year to year, while the comp plan “is intended to be a long-term document.”
Carrie Coyner, the Bermuda District representative, agreed, calling the tables “a snapshot in time.”
Ultimately, the board agreed to delete the tables and to include a statement that capacity and enrollment “is subject to change” and that up-to-date information is provided each year in the school division’s Capital Improvement Program and budget.
Discussions of plans for expanding the school system’s career and technical education facilities led to a change in the description of the 21st Century Academy at the former Clover Hill High School. Because work on the academy has already started, the revised facilities plan now treats it as an existing facility, not a future project.
No additional career and technical facilities are included in the plan, but the revised version urges support of “continued efforts to expand career and technical education opportunities beyond the Chesterfield Technical Center and the 21st Century Academy. These efforts should complement revitalization and economic development efforts.”
At Coyner’s suggestion, the board also approved a change of wording that would allow middle schools to be built in residential areas “where feasible.” Originally, the plan had ruled out building middle schools in residential neighborhoods.
The Board of Supervisors has scheduled its public hearing on the full comp plan for its meeting next Wednesday, Oct. 10, and is expected to vote on whether to approve it on Oct. 24.