Meeting set on school rehab
Posted: February 16, 2013
The Winchester Star
BERRYVILLE — The Board of Supervisors is urging citizens to attend a meeting that will outline the future renovation of the former Clarke County High School.
They hope that the session will offer answers for some questions about the scope and cost of the project.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Joint Government Center.
RRMM, the Chesapeake architects for the work, will outline the project, and School Board members, along with Schools Superintendent Mike Murphy, will be on hand to answer questions.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to get a better understanding how the project has evolved to this point and the rationale for it,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hobert.
Last fall, the School Board voted for a phased-in, one-school approach to consolidate the division’s lower grades in one building.
The first phase of the project would involve constructing additions to the former high school and moving pre-kindergarten through third-grade students into the building. Fourth- and fifth-graders would remain at D.G. Cooley Elementary for now.
At some point, during a second phase, all classes through the fifth grade would be housed at the former high school, leaving Cooley for administrative use.
Pre-kindergarten and the first grade are now taught at Berryville Primary and the second through fifth grades at Cooley. The future status of Berryville Primary is undecided.
The first phase of the renovation would cost about $7.2 million — the amount left over after the completion of the new high school. The future addition of grades four and five at the former high school would cost another $4 million to $7 million, depending on the amount of extra work needed and any increases in construction costs.
When the second phase of the project will begin is not known, but it is likely more than five years away. It is contingent on appropriations by the supervisors.
One of their concerns is how the original plan, which called for renovating D.G. Cooley and the former high school, with the possibility of upgrades at Berryville Primary, has tranformed into focusing solely on renovations and additions to the former high school.
“Our primary concern is things are moving forward in a way that’s different than previously proposed,” Hobert said.
Supervisor Barbara Byrd agreed.
“We the supervisors and the public want to know why the change in direction,” she said. “All of a sudden, after time passes, we hear everything has completely changed.”
Another concern is that the total cost of both phases could reach $14 million — nearly twice the $7.2 million originally proposed.
Murphy said the single-school concept is more wise and prudent.
“It’s a long-term savings for taxpayers, preparing the old high school for the future,” he said.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at firstname.lastname@example.org