Four more school renovation option were presented to the Clarke County School Board on Monday night. Crabtree Rohrbaugh Associates (CRA) principal Tom Crabtree told the Board that learning environment rather than cost should be the main driver in selecting the preferred renovation option for Berryville-area elementary students.
“All of the options that we are presenting are within your budget,” Crabtree said. “The selection really is about the style in which this community seeks to educate its students.”
Crabtree presented four options for consideration by the School Board; options “one” and “three” incorporate both the old high school and Cooley Elementary for classroom space and carry respective price tags of $6M and $7M. Option “two” and “four” place the entire school population – less pre-K under Option two – under a single roof in the old high school with administrative offices at Cooley Elementary.
None of the options included the existing Berryville Primary building.
“Berryville Primary is not within the means of your budget,” Crabtree said. “It is not the highest and best use of your of your budget to renovate that building.”
While the School Board currently has $7.2M with which to complete elementary school renovations, School Board member and renovation committee chairman Jim Brinkmeier (Berryville) has regularly reminded the other School Board members that increasing construction costs associated with the recovering economy will continue to eat away as purchasing power the longer it takes to make a final decision on the renovation plan.
“If we wait six months to a year could we see a five – ten percent increase right off the top of these options?” Brinkmeier asked Rohrbaugh.
“I wouldn’t expect five – ten percent in the next few months,” Rohrbaugh replied. “But there will certainly be an increase.”
Crabtree-Rohrbaugh was the fourth, and last, of four firms that has provided pro-bono construction advice to the School Board. CRA is also the architectural firm that designed Clarke County’s new high school.
Options one and three would use both the current high school and D.G. Cooley for classroom space.
Options two and four suggest adding space for kindergarten and first grade in a new structure attached to the current high school — freeing up Cooley to be used as a school administration building.
The main difference in the latter two options is the inclusion of pre-kindergarten classes at an administrative office at Cooley in option No. 2 and at the current high school in No. 4.
Crabtree said that a main disadvantage of options ‘one” and “three” is the need to relocate students between buildings during the construction phase of the project.
Crabtree said that although option four requires a 22,600 sq. ft. addition at the new high school and contains no renovations of Cooley Elementary, all classrooms meet Virginia Department of Education size requirements all classrooms have windows and the building’s core facilities are adequate to for the estimated 600 student population.
“Under option ‘two’ and ‘four’ there is no need to move any students during construction,” Crabtree said. “Personally, I like option four the best.”
“It’s really a question of weighing two schools versus one school,” Crabtree said.
As with each of the three previous consulting firms that have addressed the School Board regarding renovations, Crabtree said that storm water management associated with an expansion of the new high school is not a significant issue.
“We see storm water management as a $50K improvement project that will need to be done,” Crabtree said.
“Given what you know of our situation here, can the construction be achieved in an eight month schedule,” Brinkmeier asked.
“If you need to do it, option four is achievable in eight months,” Crabtree said. “Option two is not.”