CDN Poll – Cast Your Vote on School Renovation Options

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.”

Option 1 (click to enlarge)

Option 2 (click to enlarge)









Option 4 (click to enlarge)

Option 3 (click to enlarge)










[poll id=”6″]



  1. StoneBroke says:

    Not sure?? But shouldn’t this process have already been decided a long time ago? These decisions and discussions should have been taking place as soon as construction began on the new school. My view on the situation. (Not that it matters)

    • jennifer says:

      Those decisions and discussions did take place and were made during the process of constructing the new HS. Some members of the new Board chose to revisit the plans of the previous Board. Of course this would involve more time and money.

      • Stonebroke says:

        It’s obvious that those decisions were not made by the fact that they are still scrambling to decide what is the best option. I know the SB wants to make the right decision when making such important decisions but now it seems like it is at the last hour and now it will be a rushed decision.

        • jennifer says:

          No, the plans for what would go where were made by the previous board. The designs were not purchased and set in motion by the end of the term but the decision as to building use was made. Some members of this Board chose to revisit the use plans for whatever reasons. “They” involve different people now with different ideas and agendas. And you are correct. The new they would like to change course, with their own cast of characters, and then rush to completion.

  2. CDN should have included a fifth option: NONE OF THE ABOVE.

    Thus far, all of the studies have ignored the school division’s major challenge: in Berryville, there are not just two buildings – but FIVE buildings currently under the control of the School Board:

    – the two buildings of the “Cooley Complex” – the current high school and DGC.
    – Primary
    – The Annex (SPED)
    – F&M building (Alt. Ed) Property of CCEF.

    All of the options presented thus far, would result in LESS overall square footage available than if Primary – containing over 20,000 sq. ft. with 15 classrooms – was included in the mix.

    ALL of these buildings are currently in use and contain students and employees. With the exception of the F&M building which does not belong to the division, they are educational ASSETS paid for by the taxpayers, and should not be mothballed/closed down or sold without the spector of trailers appearing once more on the horizon in the not distant future.

    Any solution that does not address the entirety of ALL of these buildings and where their current occupants are to be put, will be only a partial solution, leaving the division with more headaches and a lack of money to finish the job.

    Given the current slow economy, and the BOS’ clear indication that there will be no further funds beyond the $7.2 million available before 2017-8.

    Renovating not only CCHS and D.G. Cooley, but Primary as well, is doable – perhaps with fewer frills, but very doable. These renovation costs have already been included in the school division’s capital projects since 2010.

    P.S. – Trying to convert 31,000 sq. ft., 17 classroom Cooley into ADMINISTRATIVE offices, with only 18-25 administrative employees (count them please: 7 in the SBO, 9 Annex, 2 F&M and possibly JAS [why?]), would mean some 1,500 sq. ft per employee. That’s simply not reasonable. Try explaining to the community why you are adding such a large amount of administrative space, while at the same time, cutting the overall educational space you’re making available.

    Renovating all three schools was doable and agreed to by the SB in 2010. It should still be doable now.


  3. Uncle Jessie says:

    Thank you Robina!

    Pump your breaks Brinkmeier and let’s get this right.

  4. jennifer says:

    just curious, why did you present the options in the poll in the 3,4,2,1 order rather than 1,2,3,4 ?

    CDN editor: The software automatically rearranges the voting graphic from “highest” to “lowest”.

  5. J Gibson says:

    I agree (shockingly) with Robina on this one. Brinkmeier seems more interested in looking like a “player” and showing off his “construction consulting expertise” that he’s totally ignoring the previous work already in place. Do NOT reduce academic space. Do it right.

    Using Cooley for PreK-1, the current high school for Grades 2-5, and Primary as admin/alt-ed/other services makes the most sense. Sell that house and its entrance to someone, tear up half that parking lot so that house has a yard (ups its price) and add that money to the pot. Renovate BPS (elevator, please), and do it right.

    BTW, CDN, this survey is really poorly done. You only ask such a thing of the CRA proposals; where was the voting for the other ones?

    • Uncle Jessie says:

      This question by Brinkmeier is sketchy to say the least:
      “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.

      What did he expect the consultant to say? What other softball questions did you toss out there Brinkmeier?

  6. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Looks like school administration is voting, duh!