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Caroline school projects detailed

An artist’s rendering of improvements to Caroline High School. Click the image to see the entire Capital Improvements Projects presentation (PDF)

 

Caroline voters will be asked to approve a $26.3 million bond referendum in the fall to pay for renovations to Madison Elementary and Caroline High schools.

The Ruritans of Port Royal got a look at the details of both projects Thursday night in a presentation by Randy S. Jones, CEO of OWPR Architects and Engineers, the Blacksburg-based architectural firm working with the school system.

Together, the projects will run $25 million, plus the cost of issuing the bonds.

Renovations and additions to Caroline High School will cost $21 million, and the work done to Madison Elementary will cost $4 million.

MADISON ELEMENTARY

Madison Elementary was built in the 1950s and last renovated in 2004. Proposed changes include:

  • Constructing a new secure entrance with an expanded lobby
  • Expanding the cafeteria
  • Adding four new classrooms
  • Adding two new computer labs
  • Constructing a newly paved pickup/drop-off area for school buses.

The school will still need to have trailers, but some of the overcrowding will be relieved with the new classrooms and over time. This project will give the school an additional 14,000 square feet of space.

Jones said they explored other options, but adding more than four classrooms—at a cost of $300,000 to $350,000 each—would be too expensive for the district.

The current bus loop would be turned into expanded parking. The playground would also be relocated away from the road.

The new front entrance will look similar to the entrances at the renovated Bowling Green Primary and Lewis and Clark Elementary.

The students and teachers at Bowling Green Elementary are moving over to Bowling Green Primary this fall, taking their name with them and becoming one pre-K through fifth-grade school.

CAROLINE HIGH SCHOOL

The high school, built in 1975, is the building in more dire need of help.

The biggest issue is with the heating and air-conditioning system, which will need to be upgraded whether the referendum passes or not.

Here is what’s planned for the school:

  • Replacing the roof, windows, lighting and ceilings
  • Renovating the old library and administrative space into 16 extra classrooms
  • Adding new electrical service, an updated intercom and communications system, new locker rooms, restrooms and plumbing upgrades
  • Painting throughout
  • Installing new lighting and sound systems for the auditorium
  • Adding a new administrative area, a new media center, a new 2,500-seat gym, new classrooms and three new vocational laboratories. The current gym will still be used as an auxiliary gym, but it’s too low and tight to be used the way it is now.

The athletic facilities will be upgraded as well, for safety reasons, Jones said. Those improvements include:

  • Installing upgraded bleachers
  • Relocating the long jump and high jump
  • Resurfacing the asphalt track
  • Renovating the restrooms
  • Upgrading fields
  • Expanding and renovating the field house.

The look of the front of the school will be transformed, Jones said.

Caroline High’s current capacity is for 1,100 students, and it would be expanded to hold 1,800 students. The extra space for vocational classes would increase the area of the school by almost one-third.

In 15 years, the county may still need a new high school, which could go in Carmel Church, Jones said.

TIMELINE FOR WORK

If the referendum is approved in November, it could take another year to finish the work at Madison Elementary and two to 2 years to complete the high school, Jones said.

The high school would require at least two summers worth of work, Jones said. The rest could be done while students are in school, even though it’s a challenge.

Updating the school’s heating and air-conditioning system will allow the building to use natural gas instead of propane and electric, he added, which will be a money-saver for the county.

Overall reaction to the project was positive among those at the Ruritans meeting. Sylvia Sellers, a retired teacher who lives in Port Royal, said she particularly favors the vocational classroom space.

“I’m very much in favor of this bond issue,” said Sellers.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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