Wed04162014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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$30 million for a new school is one option being considered

Colonial Beach School Board members are grappling with the question of a permanent solution to the middle school damage. Options range from repairing the existing building to building a new middle school or building a Pre-K-12 school.

James, M. McCalla, Vice President of Moseley Architects spoke briefly to the school board about options concerning building a PK-12 school and his company’s bid for a 129,157 square foot building at a total cost of $30,304,148. He estimated 30 to 35 acres would be ideal for a PK-12 school. The building itself would only take up two to three acres; the majority of land would be used for athletic fields.

McCalla plans to return to Colonial Beach on Nov. 9 to present the school board with more information.

Donna Power, Colonial Beach School Superintendent, presented bids to the School Board at last week’s meeting for repair costs to save the old middle school building. Bids from Heritage Contracting, Virginia Roofing Corporation, International Roofing Corporation

and Jett Builders, LLC ranged in prices from $269,340 to $1,895,000.

Recent disasters in August of this year from a 5.8 earthquake, Hurricane Irene and flash flooding from Tropical Storm Lee were not totally to blame for damage to the middle school building. Years of neglected maintenance added to damage resulting from the recent disasters making it ineligible for insurance or disaster relief money.

Falling bricks from a chimney in the middle school building after the earthquake alerted school officials to the need for a closer inspection. What officials found was years of neglected maintenance in the almost 100-year-old building.

Officials found damage from leaks in the roof both over the second story and over the one-story section located behind the gymnasium, which housed the boys and girls bathrooms and functioned as a hallway leading into the gym from the older two-story section.

The original structure was built in 1912. The gym was added later in 1926 according to Wayne Kennedy, School Board Member and former coach.

School Board members seem to be in favor of a new school that would bring all grades together but are undecided if one building is the smartest solution. They are leaning towards several buildings on one common campus.

“I believe we can turn this challenge into a tremendous opportunity,” Kennedy said at the meeting.

Kennedy appealed to the citizens saying, “ I know the majority of people in this town are bubbling over with Drifter pride, 24-7/365. It’s going to be real important in the near future that you continue to exhibit that pride with your support, your voice, your votes and your influence because we want to maintain our school system.”

Chairman Tim Trivett said, “The most important thing is the safety of our children,” and praised the teachers and staff for handling the recent move of middle school students so quickly. “I’m proud of everyone of them.”

Initial reports from inspections and an asbestos survey cleared the building for occupancy but a later report from the Town’s Building Inspector, Dexter Monroe, deemed the building inhabitable.

The bathrooms were found to have an unsafe level of lead-based paint peeling from moisture. The bathrooms were to remain sealed and untouched until insurance inspections were completed.

In the meantime the board has requested $75,000 from the town to fund a new mod pod to house the middle school students for two years while the board can come to and implement a decision.

Town Manager Val Foulds was scheduled to meet with the Town’s auditor to determine if funds where available. As of Friday no word had been given to the School Board.

Linda Farneth

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