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W-JCC considers asking for new elementary school, to expand high schools

aheymann@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg-James City County School Board was briefed Tuesday on the early version of the 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan, which suggested building a new elementary school and expanding all three high schools at its work session.

The proposed plan includes a 10th elementary school because using the low projection for elementary school enrollment growth shows they will be over capacity in 2026 at 100.7 percent or 36 students, growing to 82 students by 2027.

According to division enrollment numbers Clara Byrd, Laurel Lane and Blayton Elementary Schools are already over capacity. The committee that helped develop the CIP suggested starting the process for the school in 2020.

Monique Barnes, W-JCC’s chief financial officer, said the another option would be to expand existing elementary schools, but she cautioned that it would be a temporary solution.

A new elementary school would cost an estimated $38,533,221.

Barnes said the CIP committee also suggested expanding all three high schools to accommodate projected enrollment growth rather than spending $100 million to build a new high school.

While Warhill already had an addition planned, it was for only eight classrooms. The committee suggested upping that to 12 at a cost of $4,742,836 to design and build the four rooms.

Getting a design to expand Jamestown High School would cost another $579,174. The Lafayette expansion plans were already pre-approved in the last CIP. In 2021, the design will be created for $471,211.

The total cost of the proposed 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan is $94,508,261. More than 70 percent of that budget, $66,318,743, is for expansion of the high schools and construction of a new elementary school.

The committee also suggested adding three projects to 2020. These were:

  • Demolish the well at Berkeley Middle School
  • Redesign Jamestown High School’s entrance
  • Repair Warhill High School’s track.

All three projects were suggested based on urgency and safety concerns, according to Barnes. For example, Warhill’s track was damaged recently by inclement weather. It needs to be repaired so Warhill students have a safe place to practice and host track meets.

The CIP plan was developed by a committee that met on three occasions, Barnes said.

The committee was comprised of Barnes, the assistant superintendent of elementary leadership, the assistant superintendent of secondary leadership, the chief of staff, senior director for operations, senior director of technology, the coordinator for PE and Athletics, the facilities supervisor, one principal from elementary, middle and high schools and four community members.

When creating the Capital Improvement Plan, Barnes said the committee took into account W-JCC principals’ requests, projected enrollment and building capacity, as well as the board’s current CIP.

Ideas that were excluded either did not meet the required threshold of $50,000 per project or could be addressed through the Operations and Maintenance Operating Budget.

What’s next?

A public hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan will be held at the next School Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16, in building F of the James City County Complex on 101 Mounts Bay Road.

On Nov. 13, the School Board will begin to prioritize CIP items, another public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m Nov. 27; the board will approve the Capital Improvement Plan on Dec. 11.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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