MILFORD – The Caroline County School Board has approved a revised capital improvements projects plan that gives top priority to renovating and expanding Caroline High School.
There is also a new wrinkle in the plan, which is basically spells out what the school division’s long-term building needs are.
The plan includes a proposal to convert the old Ladysmith Elementary School, now used for the school system’s Diversified Learning Center, into a new elementary school for 700 students.
The front portion of the building would be torn down and replaced with a two-story structure, and part of the existing building would be renovated. Parking and driveway facilities also would be modified. The project would cost an estimated $16 million.
The elementary school project is the School Board’s third priority after the high school and after proposed renovations and additions to Madison Elementary School.
The capital improvements plan approved by the School Board a year ago called for converting the old Ladysmith Elementary School into a 350-student elementary school, and it was the fifth of five proposed projects.
The School Board was briefed on the new plan by its architect, Randy Jones of OWPR, at its regular meeting on Monday evening of this week. It voted unanimously to approve the plan, which was the recommendation of a committee.
The school division is experiencing a growing student population that is occurring mainly in the Ladysmith area, Superintendent Greg Killough told the School Board.
Madison Elementary School already is over capacity, he said, and Lewis & Clark Elementary School, which opened in 2008, already is nearing capacity.
The School Board recognized a large group of students for achievements, and it scheduled the briefing by Jones while their parents were present.
Killough also used the opportunity to urge parents to address the school division’s capital needs with their representatives on the county’s Board of Supervisors.
“That’s where we need your support,” he told the audience.
Some of the school facilities are “long overdue,” said Killough, and “should have been addressed years ago.”
The other two projects on the capital improvements projects plan are renovating Caroline Middle School and building athletic fields and eventually constructing a new 900-student elementary school somewhere in the vicinity of the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor.
The high school’s capacity is 1,100 students. It will exceed 1,400 students in three years, said Killough. The proposed project for the high school includes adding 10 classrooms and four vocational labs that would increase capacity to 1,800 students.
The high school project includes improvements to athletic facilities and replacing or renovating the roof, windows, heating and air conditioning systems, lighting and electrical service, and more.
The entire high school project would cost an estimated $21 million. Renovating and expanding the high school would be more cost effective at this stage than building a new high school, suggested Killough. A new high school would cost an estimated $60-70 million to build.
The Madison Elementary School project would cost an estimated $3 million. The middle school project would cost an estimated $16 million, and the new elementary school, $23-24 million.
The five projects together would cost an estimated $79-80 million.
A project costing $10.5 million is currently under way to renovate and expand Bowling Green Primary School, which will allow for the consolidation of Bowling Green Elementary School.