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COLONIAL BEACH: Burned school may back loan to town

The Colonial Beach Town Council and School Board are closer to an agreement about moving the elementary school students to the current high school campus, at least temporarily.

The 280 elementary students were displaced by a Jan. 5 fire in the town’s former high school, adjacent to the elementary school’s modular classrooms. Those “mod pods” were within the area considered a collapse zone.

The elementary students have been attending school at Oak Grove Baptist Church since then.

The School Board hopes the elementary students’ modular classrooms could be moved to the current high school when classes start in the fall.

Next Wednesday, the School Board will consider a resolution to give the property where the remains of the former high school stands to the Town Council.

This will help the town secure a $1.2 million loan, which will be used to relocate the students to the current high school on First Street. It would also pay for planned renovations to the current high school.

Once the transfer document is prepared, it will be forwarded to the Town Council to review at its meeting on Thursday night.

It’s estimated to cost about $448,000 to relocate the elementary students to the high school campus and prepare the facilities for them.

Another $700,000 in renovations are planned at the high school. They include adding lights to the football field, lights in the parking lot, replacing doors and toilets and other improvements throughout the high school.

School Board Chairman Tim Trivett said the property that the town will gain will not have to be used for a school.

“It’s up to them what to do with the property,” he said.

He said the School Board considers the plan to move the elementary students to the high school building a temporary fix.

The board will begin exploring ways to build a new elementary school and where to locate it once they learn what the board will receive from the insurance settlement from the fire.

He said he has not received an estimate of what the school system will receive.

Town Manager Val Foulds said the council will seek a loan from the Virginia Municipal League/Virginia Association of Counties.

Plans to borrow the money for a new elementary school was already in the works before the fire. School officials had been in talks about moving the elementary students to the current high school’s campus.

If the town sells the former high school property, the money from the sale would be used to pay back the loan and to build a future elementary school, Trivett said.

The property would be transferred by Sept. 30, when the school system should have more information about the insurance money.

WANT TO HELP?

TONIGHT: Colonial Beach Schools have planned a benefit for 2 p.m. to midnight tonight. There will be music, raffles, silent auctions and door prizes. Meatloaf dinner available for $8 after 5p.m. Admission is a $5 donation to benefit Colonial Beach Elementary School.

ONGOING: The eighth-graders at H.H. Poole Middle School in Stafford want to help out Colonial Beach Elementary School, too. The students are part of a contest and are holding a shoe drive. If they collect 7,500 pairs of shoes, they will raise $3,000. They’d like to donate half the money to Colonial Beach Elementary and use the other half for an an end of middle school dance/party. Gently used shoes can be brought to H.H. Poole Middle, 800 Eustace Road, in Stafford. Questions can be sent to hhoolpto1@gmail.com

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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