Clarke County Schools Superintendent Michael Murphy told School Board members Monday night that new ideas are being considered for how best to use the current Clarke County High School and D.G. Cooley Elementary School in the future.
School administration has been actively engaged since earlier this year in planning how school space will be used once the new Clarke County High School opens in the fall of next year. Murphy said that discussions with Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) school space planning experts have generated ideas that CCPS hadn’t previously considered.
“We went on a walking of Cooley, Johnson Williams and the current high school with VDOE” Murphy said. “Based on our facilities, enrollment projections and budget they’ve suggested that we consider splitting Kindergarten, first and second grades in one building and third, fourth and fifth grades in a different facility.”
Murphy said that VDOE has suggested that the lower grades be housed in the soon-to-be-renovated Clarke County High School with grades three through five attending classes at Cooley.
“VDOE believes that to maximize our resources we should consider the split” Murphy said.
The classroom space study is part of a larger initiative to define how best to reconfigure school facilities once the current high school is vacated next year. The Clarke County Board of Supervisors currently holds $7.2M in funding for the school make-over that became available when construction costs for the new 161,000-square-foot high school came in below budget.
Currently, Kindergarten and first grade attend Berryville Primary School with grades two through five attending Cooley Elementary.
“This configuration may provide for some flexibility that we haven’t thought of in the past” Murphy said. “Facilities drive programs so we’re not quite sure where we are going to go just yet.”
Past School Board discussions have indicated that Johnson-Williams Middle School will likely remain unchanged while Berryville Primary may become an school division administrative center potentially absorbing space requirements from the school board office and school annex building should the two energy inefficient structures be closed.
Murphy said that additional talks between VDOE and school administration are planned.