W-JCC district replaces school buses

The Virginia Gazette

Williamsburg-James City County Schools will add new buses to its fleet thanks to a $1.27 million surplus from last year's budget.

The district spent less money than it anticipated on teaching and used those funds buy social studies text books, and replace eight buses and purchase a new one, Christina Berta, the district's chief financial officer, explained to board members during a Tuesday meeting. One bus will be used just for to the New Horizons' program, Berta said.

New Horizons is a regional education center dedicated to teaching students trades or other programs. More than 50 students from Williamsburg and James City County ride a bus to attend classes at the Hampton campus, which serves schools in the region.

Board members unanimously approved the year-end spending adjustments to take the $1.27 million to buy the buses and textbooks. The school's fiscal year ended June 30.

In the coming months, school officials will complete an audit of the district's spending last fiscal year and release its findings by the 2015, school officials said.

During the meeting, the board also discussed the planned fourth middle school.

A team from the architectural firm working on the school project described new ideas and concepts for a new middle school for Williamsburg/James City School district.

Educational facility planner Michael Hall detailed the phases of the fourth middle school project that included discussion about classrooms how those rooms will be situated during each phase of the project.

School board president Jim Kelly said he wanted to know teachers will have input into the concepts and designs from the teacher who use the space.

"We have a plan where every curriculum coordinator will select teachers to come in and talk with designers about the concepts for the fourth middle school," Superintendent Steve Constantino told board members.

The new middle school will join the district's three others — Toano, Berkeley and Lois S. Hornsby – and be built at the James Blair building, which houses the district's Central Offices.

Phase one for the new school calls for a $29.6 million renovation of the James Blair location, with the central offices sharing the property with a middle school for 600 students, slated to open in the 2018 school year.

To keep up with projected school enrollment numbers, the school plans to expand the building one to two years later to hold 900 students. That expansion could cost between $21 million and $29 million more, according to 2014 estimates provided by the school's architects.

Reach Canty at (757) 345-2341.

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