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2018-06-13 / Front Page

School Board moves on building plans, superintendent search

Board submits application to relocate Harrowgate Elementary
BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER

In its first business meeting since Rusty Fairheart became Chesterfield’s interim superintendent, the School Board approved a new site location for Harrowgate Elementary, the transfer of the Watkins Annex to the county, and reallocated a $10.7 million surplus from the current fiscal year.

Harrowgate replacementThe School Board is moving forward with the relocation of Harrowgate Elementary. Photo by James HaskinsThe School Board is moving forward with the relocation of Harrowgate Elementary. Photo by James Haskins

After the county launched plans to develop an industrial megasite in Chester last September, the school system announced that it would amend its plan to renovate Harrowgate Elementary, which stands in the path of a proposed road for the megasite.

Previously, Harrowgate had been slated for renovation as part of a $304 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2013. But as the megasite project ramped up last year, county officials proposed routing the first leg of the East-West Freeway, connecting the megasite property to Interstate 95, through the Harrowgate school property to limit the impact on nearby homeowners. Instead of renovating Harrowgate, the School Board elected to rebuild the school on property that now includes Harrowgate Park. While the application to rezone the megasite land has been withdrawn, construction of the freeway and the new school are moving forward.

The proposed site for the new Harrowgate Elementary at Harrowgate Park, which is adjacent to Carver Middle School on Cougar Trail. The proposed site for the new Harrowgate Elementary at Harrowgate Park, which is adjacent to Carver Middle School on Cougar Trail. On Tuesday, the School Board approved a “substantial accord determination” application to relocate Harrowgate Elementary to the county park site.

Transfer of Watkins Annex

The School Board approved the transfer of the Watkins Elementary School Annex to the county. Located at 13801 Westfield Road, the annex was once part of Watkins Elementary. It now houses Connections Academy, an alternative education program for grades 9-12, and the Lifelong Learning Institute, a nonprofit aimed at meeting the educational, fitness and social enrichment needs of those age 50 and older.

Dual language immersion

The School Board approved a proposal to start dual language immersion programs at Robious and Elizabeth Scott elementary schools.

Both schools will begin offering immersion classes at the kindergarten level, with additional classes added at every grade level the following year. The plan is to use a “50/50 model,” wherein students take math and science in a foreign language and language arts and social sciences classes in English. Robious students will learn French; Elizabeth Scott students will learn Spanish.

Students at Elizabeth Scott will be selected by lottery, with the goal of having a student body half comprised of native English speakers, half comprised of English-language learners.

Construction update

The School Board also approved entering a contract with RRMM Architects to design and perform engineering work for four elementary schools, and approved McDonough Bolyard Peck as construction manager for the Matoaca Middle School East Addition.

Late last year, the School Board authorized RRRM and MBP to proceed with construction site test fits for replacements for Crestwood, Ettrick, Harrowgate and Reams elementary schools, using a new elementary prototype with a capacity for 750 students. Tuesday night, the School Board approved entering a contract with RRMM to design and engineer the schools for $4,431,655. It also approved entering a contract with MBP for construction management to the tune of $2,577,189.

The board also approved MBP to manage the new Matoaca Middle School East Addition project at a cost of $257,661. The addition will be a free-standing, two-story academic wing that represents the first phase of a customized construction of a new prototypical middle school.

Financial report

Christina Berta, the school system’s chief finance officer, gave a presentation of CCPS’ financial plan and budget for fiscal year 2018.

Based on all information available to CCPS staff, the school system is projected to have an ending balance of $10.7 million for fiscal year 2018. Of that figure, $9.2 million is derived from operations savings; projected revenues are approximately $1.5 million above the original budget.

The School Board approved a plan to put $1.9 million of that balance toward the debt reserve, $2 million as an additional payment toward its supplemental retirement plan, $2.3 million toward the funding of subsequent budgets, $1 million toward school bus replacements and $3.5 million toward funding a projected payment gap for SRP in fiscal year 2019.

Superintendent search

Near the end of the meeting, Fairheart expressed his gratitude to the board for serving as interim superintendent. Previously the school system’s chief of staff, he currently holds both roles.

“I’d like to thank the School Board for the privilege to serve as interim superintendent. I’m honored and humbled by your confidence in my ability to lead the school division,” Fairheart said. “I’m confident that we’ll be able to move the school division forward during this transition.”

Members of the School Board thanked Fairheart for stepping into the role.

“You’ve carried the flag on behalf of the entire system,” said Javaid Siddiqi, Midlothian district representative. “Chesterfield’s very proud to have you, so thank you for your leadership.”

Board chair and Dale district representative John Erbach explained that the school system is looking to bring on consultants in the search for its next superintendent.

“We expect to have these consultants on board by the end of next week,” Erbach said, adding that they plan to begin interviews for the position by mid-July.

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