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Elementary move to miss fall start


Photo by Dave Ellis / The Free Lance-Star

The Colonial Beach School Board has signed a contract with Trinity Building Co. to relocate elementary students into modular units at the town’s high school.

However, the project may not be completed until November, School Board Chairman Tim Trivett said.

Several hundred Colonial Beach students attended class this year outside of town at Oak Grove Baptist Church after a devastating January fire at the former high school put the elementary school’s modular units in a “collapse zone.”

In May, the Town Council agreed to pay for the elementary students’ relocation to the current high school campus using money borrowed through a bond and reserve funds, if necessary.

But the town did not authorize the project to begin until last week.

The school system’s insurance company is still evaluating the claim from the Jan. 5 fire, delaying anticipated settlement money.

The School Board is currently considering other options to accommodate the students through the fall. One option is having students attend class in shifts—elementary in the morning and high school in the evening.

Keeping the elementary students at Oak Grove Baptist Church is not an option, Trivett said.

Town resident and former Town Council member Tim Curtin said the failure of the town to move forward with the relocation sooner has significant impacts on Colonial Beach children, including four of his own high schoolers.

“Kids are perceptive, even more so these days. They know what’s going on and they’re not going to forget this,” he said.

The stress and uncertainty is now on the children, he said, who do not know where or when they will be going to school in just six weeks.

“They’re very keenly aware that their school system is in crisis, and they’re going to have to suffer for things that are not of their doing,” he said.

Though installation of the modular classrooms started later than anticipated, the elementary school classroom units will be installed on property behind the high school football field.

The contract with Colonial Beach-based Trinity for the relocation includes:

Two new, large, modular units for all classrooms and administrative offices

One new modular unit for multipurpose use—such as indoor gym activities and assemblies—and the cafeteria

The relocation of a modular unit from the old campus. The use hasn’t yet been determined.

The base bid for the project is $504,511. However, another $116,386 was added as a contingency for construction of canopies or “breezeways” that would connect the modular units to the high school campus.

Trivett said the School Board intends to apply for a conditional-use permit from the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals without breezeways to save money.

The School Board is strapped for cash. Last Monday, it voted to cut 9 full- and part-time positions from the school system, reduce expenditures on textbooks and eliminate the Behind the Wheel driver’s education program.

“We’re going to lose several positions; we have no choice,” Trivett said.

The School Board is also evaluating applications for the town system’s superintendent and high school principal positions, which are currently vacant.

Regina Weiss 540/374-5444


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