A second classroom trailer could be coming to Matthew Whaley Elementary School following Planning Commission’s unanimous approval at its Wednesday meeting.
The board signed off on a request from W-JCC Public Schools for a special-use permit, allowing it to install a second double-wide classroom trailer containing two classrooms. If approved by City Council, the permit would allow the trailer to stay in place until August 2022.
The two classroom trailers are needed to accommodate the school’s student population, which is overcapacity, Williamsburg Principal Planner Erin Burke said. According to the permit application, 541 students are enrolled at Matthew Whaley, which is 51 students over the school’s maximum capacity.
W-JCC supervisor of facilities and capital projects Jim Falzone said the school system will review longer-term solutions after the permit expires, if approved by City Council.
“Right now, this mobile classroom is considered to be a temporary fix,” Falzone said. “This particular school is very overpopulated.”
The existing classroom trailer at the school was approved by the city in March 2014, according to the memorandum prepared for the meeting. The trailer was originally meant to be in place until August 2018, but W-JCC representatives returned before city boards to extend the permit until July 31, 2022.
The school has long struggled with capacity issues. According to the memorandum, temporary classroom trailers were first approved to be built at Matthew Whaley in 1988 and again in 2006.
“I think it’s worth reiterating the importance of solving this problem across the district,” said Planning Commission First Vice-Chairman Jeffrey Klee. “Instead of that situation improving, it’s gotten worse. That's a problem of growth, and growth is great, but we need to manage that in a way that the children that go to Matthew Whaley don’t have to pay the price for that.”
City Council is expected to consider the special-use permit at its meeting next month.
Planning Commission also held a public hearing where city residents were invited to give their input on the city’s capital improvement planning and suggest infrastructural priorities throughout the next five years. There were no speakers at the open forum.
Planning Commission will reconvene to discuss the city’s capital improvement plan for the next five years at a meeting Jan. 30. There, the board is expected to evaluate new and existing public works projects in the city and develop a list of projects that should be prioritized for City Council’s consideration.
Ongoing and upcoming projects expected to be discussed at the Jan. 30 meeting include new or renovated fire and police department buildings, redesigns at Capitol Landing Road and Monticello Avenue and improvements at Kiwanis, Quarterpath and Waller Mill parks.
The board is expected to approve a final list of capital improvement planning priorities to pass onto the city manager’s office in February.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Elaine McBeth was re-elected to serve as the board’s chairwoman for another year. First Vice Chairman Klee and Second Vice Chair Andrew Edwards also were elected unanimously to stay in their positions.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.