By Clarke County School Board Chair, Robina Rich-Bouffault
As you all know, last July the General Contractors Howard Shockey & Sons won the bid for the construction of our new high school. Those of you who drive by know that rapid progress is being made on all fronts of construction.
However, there are apparently some – who don’t manage to come to our School Board meetings, and miss all of the construction information provided there in great detail twice a month – who are still asking basic questions concerning it. This is the reason for this up-date.
QUESTION: When will the new school be ready?
Currently, we are ahead of schedule – and hope to remain so, unless a harsh winter slows Shockey down.
- The first completion phase “Substantial Completion” (where the building shell is completed) is scheduled for the end of December, 2011.
- The second phase “Final Completion” is slated for March-April, 2012. This is when the major fixed equipment will have been installed – all a part of the Shockey contract.
- Then comes the installation of the “Owner Supplied” equipment: which includes security cameras, computer systems, furniture, and a phone system that networks into our county system.
- Final “Move-In” will take place after the current high school closes for the summer – starting in June, 2012. This will give us 3 months to shift over to our new high school, ready for the Fall 2012 semester.
ANSWER: Our students will be able to start the FALL 2012 SEMESTER in our new school.
QUESTION: THE SCHOOL CAPACITY – Will the new high school be big enough for our needs? Or “inadequate” as some say?
- Built with a “core” (entry/administration, cafeteria, competition gymnasium, auditorium, library, athletic areas, Art classrooms and Technology) for 1,000 students.
- A “regular” classroom (in the 2-story classroom wing) capacity for 800 – although please note that it is rated by the VDOE as having a capacity of 889 students, as they use a higher student/classroom ratio than we do.
- A future addition of 8 classrooms is foreseen for the classroom wing – and which will be built when needed.
- All of the other facilities can already handle 1,000 students.
- Total Square Footage of 162,000 sf, or more than 200 sq. ft. per student. FYI, the VDOE average for high schools is 175 sq. ft. per student.
ANSWER: The new high school is a BIG school, very spacious and well able to handle our future student population for easily the next 20 years.
QUESTION: OUR STUDENT POPULATION – How fast is it increasing?
- Our high school population is currently DECLINING, and has been doing so for the last four years. (see chart below).
- In FY2007, (our highest year) we had a High School Fall Membership of 771 students.
- This year (FY2011) we have a High School Fall Membership of 728 students.
- Weldon-Cooper, the state agency that forecasts population growth and statistics, indicates that they see our school population continuing to decline or stagnant over the next ten years.
ANSWER: Our student population is not increasing, but decreasing, and is projected to continue doing so over the next ten years.
QUESTION: EQUIPMENT – How well will the new high school be equipped?
Some Examples (there are more):
Will it have smart boards in every classroom? Answer: Yes.
Will there be computer labs? Answer: Yes – 3 of them.
Will there be computers in all classrooms? Answer: Yes – 4 stations per classroom.
Will it have laptop carts available for students? Answer: Yes.
How many equipped science labs will there be? Answer: 6, plus 1 science classroom.
How many equipped Tech/Ag labs will there be? Answer: 5, plus 1 Ag classroom
How many equipped Art Rooms? Answer: 2, plus 1 kiln, prep room and 2 storage rooms.
Will it have a state-of-the-art security system? Answer: Yes, including 156 cameras, inside and out.
Will there be equipped visiting team locker rooms? Answer: Yes (in addition to our regular locker rooms)
How many seats will the competition gym have? Answer: 1,000 bleacher seats.
Will there be equipped Weight/Wrestling rooms? Answer: Yes.
ANSWER: The new high school will be extremely well-equipped.