W-JCC's Herron proposes building a new elementary school in latest capital spending plan

aheymann@vagazette.com

A new elementary school was included in superintendent Olwen Herron’s proposed 2020-2029 Capital Improvement Plan, which the Williamsburg-James City County School Board reviewed at their work session on Nov. 13.

The biggest item in Herron’s proposed CIP was building a new elementary school for $38,533,221. According to low enrollment projections, elementary school enrollment is expected to grow to more than 100 percent by 2028.

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

Julie Hummel, Williamsburg, said in addition to expanding or building a new elementary school, the board should also look at re-districting as a way to help combat elementary school overcrowding.

Herron’s suggested CIP also included expanding Warhill and Lafayette High Schools.

While Warhill had an addition planned, it was for only eight classrooms. The committee suggested upping that to 12 at a cost of about $4.7 million to design and build the four rooms. Barnes added the expansion of Warhill would also include an auxiliary gym.

The Lafayette expansion and renovation was already included in the included in the County and City’s adopted plan for 2021.

Three modifications to the 2020 CIP were already discussed at a School Board work session on Oct. 2. These suggestions were originally brought up by the CIP committee. These modifications 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 and needs to be repaired so students have a safe place to practice and host track meets.

Other items on Herron’s proposed CIP included HVAC repairs/replacements and redesigning school entrances.

The cost of projects from Herron’s recommended CIP from 2020-2024 would be $94,508,261. About 70 percent of the five year CIP, $66,318,743, is for expansion and renovation of the high schools and construction of a new elementary school.

The costs of each project in Herron’s proposed CIP have included 10 percent for the anticipated architectural and engineering costs, five percent for contingency or unknown expenses that may occur, and three percent annually for price escalation.

What are the next steps on the CIP timeline?

The next public hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan will be held at the next School Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27 in building F of the James City County Complex on 101 Mounts Bay Road.

The School Board is expected to approve a CIP at their work session on Dec. 11.

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

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