Schools Turn Attention from Construction to Renovation

The Clarke County School Board heard Clarke County Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy’s proposal for reconfiguring several of the division’s buildings once the new high school is completed in 2012 on Monday night. Murphy said that he wants to minimize the impact of moving students between buildings and classrooms while maximizing the approximately $7M available to accomplish the renovation work.

While no student changes are planned for the current 2011 – 2012 school year, Murphy plans to move school operations from the existing Clarke County High School to the new high school and commence renovations on the existing high school during the summer of 2012.

Renovations at the existing CCHS are expected to be completed in Spring of 2013.

Murphy proposed two options for discussion at Monday’s School Board meeting. The first option, which Murphy said that school administration preferred, would target the summer of 2013 to remove portable classrooms from the current Clarke County High School, move current operations from D. G. Cooley Elementary School to the current Clarke County High School, move Berryville Primary’s first grade to the current Clarke County High School and add the Multiple Disabilities program to Cooley’s upper campus. Once the classroom reconfigurations are in place, Cooley renovations would be completed in the Spring of 2014 at which time Berryville Primary’s ECSE, Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Head-Start program would be moved to Cooley’s lower campus.

A second option under consideration would begin renovations on both DG Cooley and Berryville Primary during the summer of 2013, but would retain portable classrooms for an additional year. Under Murphy’s second option, renovations for both Cooley and Berryville Primary would be completed in 2014 subject to funding availability.

Murphy and Joint Administrative Services Director Tom Judge also recommended that the School Board retain the services of a construction manager and an architect to oversee the renovation efforts.

“The challenge for these two professionals would be to get all of the work done that we need within the $7.2M budget,” Judge said.

Murphy said that part of the renovation goal would be to increase efficiency by consolidating division operations from multiple building locations.

“We’ve done an analysis of the savings and it’s substantial,” Murphy said.

Murphy said that between the aging School Annex building, School Board Office and F&M building, the school division spends about $45K per year in maintenance, utilities, and heating oil.

“We spend about $1,000 per month just to heat the Annex,” Murphy the School Board.

Murphy said that while the existing Clarke County High School had the greatest renovation requirements, he also recommended that Berryville Primary be made Americans with Disabilities Act compliant if possible.

“But at this point we don’t know if any money will be left over for Berryville Primary renovations,” Murphy told the School Board.

School Board member Robina Bouffault (White Post), however, questioned why additional resources were now being spent on construction design questions when, in Bouffault’s opinion, the issue had already been addressed.

“I’d like to cast everyone’s mind back to last year when we had our existing architect and existing construction manager walk all three schools and define, at the cost of $18K, what changes needed to be made in the current high school along with the minor changes recommended for D. G. Cooley and Berryville Primary,” Bouffault said.

“That amount came to about $6.8M,” Bouffault said.

Bouffault’s said that the division needed to keep a firm grip on project scope by providing the contractor with clear expectations about what needs to be done at each facility.

“If we go out and tell a contractor ‘OK, here are our three schools, you go ahead and fix them up’ the project can easily go from within a budget to totally outside of budget,” Bouffault warned. “Before we spend any of that money we need to define exactly what needs to be done.”

Superintendent Murphy agreed with Bouffault’s concern and said that school staff plans conduct a classroom by classroom approach to its planning space needs.

“We’ll come back to the School Board in two weeks and really specify what the renovations should look like,” Murphy said.


  1. Roscoe Evans says:

    For the sake of the children that we all purport to care so much about, I hope Dr. Murphy and his staff will take an immediate and comprehensive look at the wooden stairways that lead to the temporary classrooms at Cooley. Most have only one set of steps, coupled with wrap around railings. In an emergency, those little tykes can readily find themselves panicked into corners, for no reason other than poor planning and construction by us ignorant adults. It’s long past time to remedy this matter.

    • Roscoe Evans says:

      I could care less if I get negative ratings for everything I say on this site.

      But this amazes me. Negative votes on a safety Issue?

      The wooden stairways that serve the temporary classrooms are poorly designed and poorly constructed. They are a danger to the children and the teachers who use those classrooms. They are potential fire traps.

      Inspect those stairs. Then tear them down and build new stairs that safeguard the students and their teachers. There is nothing more important for Clarke’s BOE to accomplish than to secure the safety of its students and its teachers.

  2. Unless you work there, how do you people come up with this stuff? Do you just walk around with a pocket pad and take notes on every little thing that you see wrong? Just curious on how you come up with this stuff?

  3. Tammy Lanham says:

    I think that’sa great idea! Kind of like “take your child to work” day…

    Promoting Clarke’s “Follow a student for a day” could quite well be the answer for those who wonder why on earth appropriate funding is needed to renovate our schools…..

    Experience for yourself trailer classrooms and makeshift stairs during winter months, make your way through the three high school hallways between classes, try to fit a coat or a backpack in a locker there (or at JWMS in the 6th grade hall). Climate control is always a challenge in classrooms… quite warm at Boyce, varied temps from basement to second floor of Primary, freezing at CCHS (unless it’s the summer and the air conditioning goes out). Perhaps peek behind the curtain to see what is in ‘store’ on stage at the Primary school, eat a lunch in the cafetoriauditoriumgym at Primary (warm lunches brought over from another school that actually has a kitchen), or visit the high school cafetoriauditoriumgym and hallways when the exam schedule goes into effect (with all students cramming the hallways studying and taking turns using three bathrooms).

    For those who enjoy the school “campus” setting (as was originally suggested for a more cost effective HS design) take a quick walk from the main office at Boyce to a third grade classroom or playground(good exercise!). For those who may be wheelchair-bound it is fortunate that long distances at Boyce are at least possible to navigate, but attending the Primary School would be impossible. Thankfully JWMS classrooms were designed with windows and adequate classroom space, but has anyone looked at the basement drama “facilities” or technology labs lately? Our local CCYFL has done some wonderful work painting buildings and fixing up the field and press box, and the CCEF members helped clear out the bell tower area…. Parent organizations and athletic and music boosters indeed make a difference by donating time and money to the cause (ie: improving substandard buildings and student work environments).

    It’s refreshing to hear our superintendent is working to assess student needs, recommend updated and cost-efficient work spaces for educators… and even has several options to share with the public (to complete as the ever-limited budget allows).

    We most definitely need to get a “grip” and open our eyes to the “work that needs to be done”. Take a walk… get out a note pad…. see for yourself……

    • Christina Price says:

      What a great idea!! I would love to see our School Board and Board of Supervisors accompany Dr. Murphy on a “field trip” to all the schools in an effort to see the needs thru the eyes of the children.
      Perhaps then it would be easier for them all to agree on what to do…it’s hard to deny the facts.