Community presented with facilities options

WOODSTOCK – The community was asked on Wednesday to weigh in on how the Shenandoah County school division should look in the future.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley said the community needs a roadmap in order to be poised and ready for the future of education.

“This is certainly an important conversation for our community,” he said.

Consultants, Tracey Richter, CEO of DeJong-Richter; Matt Sachs, GIS analyst; and Mike Ross, of HBA Architecture, walked the community through the process of developing options.

Think about “what makes sense to you as a community,” Richter said. Every community and school division is different and has different priorities.

Four options were presented to the community for their consideration.

Option A

This option kept the current campus-style model for the school division. All existing schools would be renovated and elementary schools would move to a year-round calendar, increasing the capacity of each school by 25 percent. Also in this option, Triplett Tech would be rebuilt at a centralized location.

The estimated total cost of this option is $125,740,308. This was the least expensive option.

Strengths of this option include minimal new construction, increased elementary school capacity by 25 percent, removal of portable classrooms from Sandy Hook Elementary School and improved access to Triplett Tech.

Challenges are that the larger elementary schools remain in place, the division would implementing year-round schooling and already aging school facilities would continue to age.

Option B

This option includes four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. North Fork Middle School and Signal Knob Middle School would be converted to elementary schools, a new north/central elementary school would be built and a new south/central elementary school would be built. Stonewall Jackson High School and Strasburg High School would then be converted to middle schools and Central High School and Peter Muhlenburg Middle School would be renovated for a division-wide high school campus. A new career and technical center would be created on the central campus as well.

This option has an estimated total cost of $145,853,144.

The strengths of this option are smaller elementary schools, increased program offerings at a centralized high school, increased athletic program offerings and the phasing out of the district’s oldest buildings over time.

The challenges of this option are transportation time issues that come with one countywide high school and activity transportation, fewer opportunities for high school athletics and extracurricular activities, and possible limited access for economically disadvantaged high school students.

Option C

This option includes five elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools. All existing schools would be renovated and two new elementary schools – north/central and south/central – would be built. Triplett Tech would also be rebuilt in a centralized location.

This option has an estimated total cost of $160,802,478. This was the most expensive option presented.

The strengths of this option are smaller elementary schools, improved access to career and technical educations at a centralized location, more space available at the elementary schools for preschool programs and the removal of portable classrooms at elementary schools.

The challenges include increased overall capacity and increased total square footage.

Option D

This option includes five elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools. Sandy Hook and Ashby Lee Elementary Schools would be renovated to serve grades PreK to second grade. Signal Knob and North Fork Middle would be renovated to serve third to fifth grade. A new preschool-to-fifth-grade school would be built on the central campus. Peter Muhlenberg Middle and Central High School would combine to become a middle school campus. Stonewall Jackson High School and Strasburg High School would be renovated and receive an addition for career and technical education.

The estimated total cost of this option is $133,111,936.

The strengths of this option are smaller elementary schools, increased program offerings at a centralized middle school, greater access to career and technical education at the northern and southern campuses and removal of portable classrooms.

The challenge with this option is transportation time issues with a one middle campus.

Also discussed at the community dialogue was the creation of aquatics and performing arts centers. Two options were presented.

One option was for one of each center at a centralized location. The estimated total cost to build the centers is $15,634,375.

The other option was for one of each center at two of the high school locations. The estimated total cost for this option is $23,103,126.

Those who attended the meeting broke into small groups to discuss the proposed options.

In one group, three steering committee members – Robin Shrum, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School; Evelyn Linaburg, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction assessment; and Kelly Newcomer, life science teacher at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School – were joined by Central High School English teacher Mike Sanders.

This group most preferred Option B and least preferred Option A.

Linaburg said she wanted an option that reduced the square footage of the schools and offered a centralized career and technical center.

Shrum agreed and said the career and technical center allows students to become “career ready.”

Newcomer said, “Strong community builds strong schools.” The county is community-oriented, she said, and needs to become united to make its schools a better educational place for the students.

She also said she liked the campus-style high school because it helps prepare students for a campus-style college.

This group also suggested an option of five elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school as a possible consideration.

An online survey will be available on the school division’s website until May 18 for the public to weigh in on the proposed options. The detailed options and video of the presentation will be available on the school division’s site as well.

The next steering committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 25 in the county board room.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

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