Board may hire new school’s principal by July

FRONT ROYAL – As progress on the new Warren County Middle School continues, the School Board is looking further into its future by considering hiring the school’s principal by July 1.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Melody Sheppard spoke to the building committee about the possibility at a meeting on Thursday, and it will come before the School Board at its next meeting on Jan. 20.

The new school’s principal would be charged with setting up the building with furniture and equipment as well as taking care of operational planning. Sheppard said the schools do not have anyone in mind for the position.

Committee and School Board member Doug Rosen expressed some initial wariness with the plan.

“That can be a tricky area regarding changes,” he said. “If you don’t have a person that’s had some experience with that…it just gives me a funny feeling in my stomach – having a school principal doing that – and I don’t mean that in a negative way.”

Sheppard said that in past school projects, architects haven’t played a role in setting up that furniture and equipment. The committee also established that the principal wouldn’t be alone in making those decisions.

“We did the furniture and equipment on all three of our schools,” Sheppard said.

Superintendent Greg Drescher said this plan would alleviate the weight of multiple responsibilities on the new school’s administration.

Currently, furniture and equipment planning services account for $150,000 worth of uncompleted service on Ballou Justice Upton Architects’ invoice to the schools. Sheppard said that amount would be taken out of the invoice and some of that money would be spent on hiring that person.

James Marstin, the owner’s representative for the construction, updated those on the committee about the current state of the new middle school. He said that much of the soil on the building site was unsuitable and needed to be replaced with soil that drains better, and workers are currently constructing the footing. So long as the winter weather cooperates and there isn’t any heavy snowfall, work should still continue on schedule within planned weather delays.

Sheppard said that replacing the soil has depleted from a $200,000 credit but it remains in the black. In construction thus far, Howard Shockey & Sons has spent 13 percent of the total construction budget.

The committee also reviewed updates on work at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School. Designs for an additional parking lot with 50 to 75 spaces and the roof and front entryway are expected to be in by the end of the month into February. Sheppard said construction on the roof could occur during the school year with minimal interruptions to classes, but work on the new entryway would take a total of six months of work and require some adjustments during the school year.

Sheppard also reported that the school’s energy savings project financing should be backed by Jan. 21. Infrastructure elements would be replaced with higher-efficiency installations starting soon after the financing is in place, and the project would also include replacing elements like ceiling tile, carpets, windows and exterior doors.

“I think once we get it completed, it will be a completely renovated building,” she said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com