The Chesterfield County School Board (CCPS) last week voted to accept recommended changes to its facilities plan. The new plan, which will become part of Chesterfield’s countywide comprehensive plan, indicates which schools will be revitalized, replaced and where new schools could be located.
In 2010, CCPS evaluated all its schools and determined that all schools should be properly maintained and that schools across the county should be of consistent building quality. Demand for schools in some areas of the county has been greater than others and those areas have been privy to newer schools to sustain the need for a growing student population. According to the Board’s plan document, “As of 2012, county schools range in age from just under 100 years to just over two years.”
Although some of these older schools and schools in need of revitalization are in different school districts, Bermuda District School Board Member Carrie Coyner says the Board was able to overcome any disparity among districts and Board Members.
“The School Board has worked collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission in an effort to continue to provide first-class facilities for a First Choice community,” Ms. Coyner said. “The projects approved by the School Board are those identified in a facility assessment conducted in 2010. The school buildings chosen for the first tier of action are between 44 and 84 years old, which include Enon Elementary and Harrowgate Elementary in the Bermuda District. We look forward to modernizing these schools, realizing they continue to be focal points for the community.”
With 38 elementary schools with a total of 26,000 students; 12 middle schools with a population of 13,900 students and 11 high schools with 18,900 students, finding a place for the great number of students and drawing school boundaries is also part of the plan.
Part of the plan is where to locate new schools. Two years ago, the Chester community was up in arms over the readapting of Chester Middle School for use as the Thomas Dale High School Ninth Grade Academy and Chester Middle School students were shifted to other schools. The new plan is friendly to the idea of building a new middle school in the same general area. This new facility is listed on the post 2020 plan.
Two new high schools are planned for the long term, after 2020, on Branders Bridge Road and near Chester Road and Route 288. Developer HHHunt had planned to donate the land for the high school on Branders Bridge Road as part of its development proffers.
As new Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budgets adopted for the county’s 2014 fiscal year, the new projects will be coming to fruition. The 2014 fiscal year begins on July 1 in 2013. So plans for new or revitalized schools and other school facilities will begin to show up on the radar in the community. Although the planning document stated that the first phase only begins in the 2014 budget, projects will be spread over six years.
Coyner says she is looking forward to the future as the community gets involved in these new projects as they come along.
“We look forward to working with the county as it invests resources in the community around our schools as well,” Coyner said. “Working together, we can continue to provide facilities that best serve our residents – and in our case, provide 21st century schools with 21st century teaching tools and highly qualified teachers in which we can continue to prepare young students for success.”