Frederick County schools discuss needed projects

Frederick County Public Schools would like to rebuild Aylor Middle School and build a new high school.

The project is included in the proposed five-year $259 million 2019-2023 Capital Improvements Plan that was adopted by the School Board on Nov. 9. The plan moves forward to the Frederick County Planning and Development Committee. It will then be acted on at a future date by the Board of Supervisors.

The Aylor Middle School project has been on the list since 2004, initially as a renovation and addition. It was revised as a new building project,  now at an estimated cost of $52 million.

“Aylor Middle School opened in 1969 and has not undergone any significant renovations since opening,” said Steve Edwards, Frederick County Public Schools coordinator of policy and communications.

Edwards stressed that estimated costs vary over time as costs of design, material, labor and overhead change. Project costs are turnkey and include building construction, site construction, land purchase, design, furniture, fixtures, equipment, technology, and construction management.

A recent condition assessment report for the school found that site elements, plumbing components, HVAC systems and electrical components have reached between 50 percent and 85 percent of their useful life expectancy. The design of the school is not conducive to today’s best teaching practices, which includes the use of collaborative learning spaces, Edwards said.

The location of the new middle school has yet to be determined and could be built on the current school grounds or on a new site.

The division also has cited a need for a new high school, a project initially placed on the plan in 2005.

School administrators, however, went back to the drawing board to readjust the high school’s design to lower that estimated cost to $83 million after the Board of Supervisors in March denied funding for the project. The supervisors proposed  a future appropriation of up to $9.2 million to build an addition that add 400 permanent  classroom seats.

“Since that time, a study has been done examining the feasibility of doing an addition at Millbrook High School. The School Board reviewed that information as well as data concerning projected enrollment growth and determined that building the addition at Millbrook will not address overcrowding issues at the high school level,” Edwards said.

The study found that only 200 additional seats could be created at Millbrook for the $9.2 million the supervisors were willing to fund.

The redesign would have a capacity of 1,250 students, reduced from the initial plan to serve 1,725 students.

Other projects on the list include:

  • Armel Elementary School addition and renovation at an estimated cost of $9.8 million.
  • James Wood High School addition and renovation at an estimated cost of $55 million.
  • Sherando High School addition and renovation at an estimated cost of $59.5 million.

Potential future projects include joint administrative offices; phase 2 renovation at Apple Pie Ridge Elementary School; phase 2 renovation at Bass-Hoover Elementary School; Dowell J. Howard Center replacement; Indian Hollow Elementary School renovation and addition.