Letter to the Editor: School Renovations

Dear Editor

I have reviewed the options presented at the SB’s renovation committee’s meetings, by OWPR and CRA this month. I have become increasingly concerned by the options presented, and by the fact that Berryville Primary has apparently been excluded from consideration.

As the SB will be having a committee meeting to discuss this on May 30th, please find attached two documents:

1)    A 3 page pdf file showing on the first page, the existing buildings that should be under consideration for renovation/elimination on the first page, and the OWPR and CRA options on the 2nd and 3d pages.

2)    A chart of school membership from FY00 through FY12 for your general information.

Comments concerning OWPR’s and CRA’s presentations:

a)    OWPR – They have incorrectly represented the size of Cooley’s classrooms as being only 720 SF, when in reality they are between 790sf (5 classrooms) and 821-842sf (12 classrooms). (Source: original architectural drawings from DGC architects Dixon and Norman 1966). Cooley’s classroom sizes are already more than adequate for elementary students. I do not believe that OWPR actually looked at the detail of the architectural drawings.

b)    In all OWPR/CRA options, and at considerable expense, there is a net DECREASE in space available for educational purposes, as seen in the attached 3 page document.

It is important that the School Board consider the ENTIRETY of the school buildings under consideration, and not just two of them. In addition to Pre-K-5 (Cooley-Primary), you will need to examine The Annex, and the F&M building that is leased and that handles Alternate Education. Are you planning on mothballing them all??

In 2010, Dr. Murphy, when discussing the renovations, had the objective of closing F&M (to save the substantial operating costs) and the Annex (a very dilapidated building), to incorporate them into a renovated Primary, which would then house not only the SBO administration, but the Annex administration, the F&M personnel and students, as well as the IT department ( 4 people) currently housed in JWMS in two dark rooms. (The school division’s IT department desperately needs additional space to deal with the increased demands being placed upon it).

I am in total agreement with Dr. Murphy’s objectives in this regard.

Why have none of these needs been taken into consideration in the OWPR/CRA options?

Both the OWPR/CRA presentations eliminate any renovations of Primary, and in two instances, don’t even contemplate renovating Cooley!. (see attached). Not only would the proposed renovated spaces NOT provide for future student growth, they would in fact decrease the number of classrooms currently available, while costing a considerable amount of money in “soft costs” (engineering, permitting, site work for storm water).

The more money that is spent on Soft Costs, is less money available for building renovation.

The School Board, if it wishes to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, needs to do two things:

1)    Include Primary in the renovation process, to house all administration (SBO – Annex – F&M), as well as the varying number of F&M Alternative Ed. Students, WHO SHOULD BE KEPT SEPARATE FROM ELEMENTARY STUDENTS. There is no such provision made in the OWPR and CRA presentations, without sacrificing a great number of classrooms. If you will respect the current building footprints, this is the most cost-effective solution. On a square footage basis, it costs far more to build new additions, than to renovate existing space. Don’t eliminate 24,428 sq. ft. of Primary, only to build additions of approx. the same sq. footage at much greater expense.

2)    Should re-visit its desire for all larger classrooms (which are VDOE ‘guidelines’, not requirements) which, while a laudable goal, are not a realistic goal when dealing with existing buildings and not new construction. Some walls within the footprint can be eliminated to provide some large classrooms, without unnecessary additions. The budget is limited, and needs to be utilized to maximize teaching – classrooms – and not be wasted on soft costs and administration.

I will end by saying that if you choose to expand the footprints (i.e. build additions) of the current “Cooley Complex” buildings, you will trigger the need for storm water considerations – and engineering/permits – and costs. Please try to keep your renovations within the current building footprints – use all 3 buildings – not only 2, and make sure that there is ample room for increased student numbers.  With the current options, future growth has not been taken into account.

Before any architect or project manager can accurately estimate details or costs concerning any renovation, the Owner (the School Board) needs to give them a DETAILED, itemized list of exactly WHAT the board wants to be done. You have to deal with:

–        Current High School

–        D.G. Cooley

–        Berryville Primary

–        The Annex

–        F&M Building

–        IT Department

The decision is yours. Please don’t choose an expensive course of action that will require more trailers in the near future, and renew the controversies of the past.

Choose well, oh School Board…

CCPS Schools for Renovation 5-28-2012

CCPS FY00-FY12 VDOE Fall Memberships and ADMs


Robina Rich Bouffault

White Post, Virginia


Robina Bouffault is a former chairwoman of the Clarke County School Board 


  1. Fly on the wall says:

    Robina, I’ve not always agreed with your arguments or tactics in the past, but I must say I thoroughly agree with your assessments here. The SB committe-as-a-whole, rushed along as if he’s got something to prove by Brinkmeier, would well be wise to give an ear to this analysis as well as to what Mr. Schutte has said all along re stormwater issues with expansion @ the current CCHS site.

  2. Tony Parrott says:

    Well said. Keeping existing footprints keeps us out of the “storm water management” minefield.
    I do however believe it should be a goal in reaching or getting close to (give or take a sq foot) the desired VDOE space consideration guidelines. Little people need more room than high school kids. There is a lot of space in the current HS; it’s just a matter of better utilization of that space, meeting goals for current/future needs and keeping it within budget. I’m sure we all agree on that one.

  3. dontaskme says:

    Well said. I do have questions though…if BPS is renovated does that mean asbestos needs to be removed and remediated (not sure if it is in there, but it was likely built during the era that it was widely used),and will an elevator be required to be put in to comply with the ADA (does extensive remodeling trigger ADA compliance requirements?)?

    • Don’t Ask Me –

      To respond to your questions:

      ADA requirements for Primary will definitely need a new elevator – at a cost already taken into consideration in the 2010 cost estimates, along with other ADA requirements. Building an elevator is not that expensive.

      Asbestos removal, if needed, would be at a relatively small cost although none was identified during the 2010 walk-thru. By ‘small cost’, I mean in the region of $30 to $50,000 at most, if there was extensive asbestos located in the basement. (I have done asbestos remediation in some of my own buildings).


  4. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Right on Robina, you go girl!
    Don’t let them pull a slick one on this. Stick to the plan. I am sure there is a point these firms will make money.