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Engineer describes school condition to hundreds

Posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

MILFORD—Hundreds came to see their children receive awards for making perfect test scores, but they also heard about the dire needs of two school buildings while at the Caroline School Board meeting on Monday.

Randy S. Jones, chief executive officer with the architectural and engineering firm of OWPR of Blacksburg, told the School Board, parents and students at the meeting about the condition of Caroline High School and Madison Elementary School.

The timing for Jones’ presentation was excellent because he had a captive audience of parents and voters who were there to see their sons and daughters receive awards from School Superintendent Greg Killough and a handshake from all five school principals and each member of the School Board.

County officials are seeking support from Caroline voters for a $26.3 million bond referendum that’s going on the Nov. 5 ballot.

After Jones and Killough told parents and others about the dire needs of the two schools, third and fourth graders from Bowling Green Elementary, Madison Elementary and Lewis and Clark Elementary were then called to the stage one by one. They received awards for making a perfect 600 score on the Virginia Standards of Learning test during the 2012-2013 school year in reading, math, science, social science, history and Virginia studies.

The roof at CHS is in such poor condition that clear plastic tarps have been placed in certain spots to keep water from leaking into the building below. Leaks are typically beneath the heavy heating and cooling units on the roof, and these units are the size of tractor trailers.

Jones noted that a failing heating and cooling system would shut down the high school.

The locker facilities at CHS are “outdated and worn out and do not function adequately,” Jones said.

In addition upgrades are necessary to make the school completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Altogether, the high school needs $21 million worth of upgrades, renovation and expansion.

Building an entirely new high school would cost $60 million to $80 million.

Killough noted that once Madison gets $4 in upgrades, it will be “25 to 30 years before more work is needed at Madison.”

The superintendent said that along with the upgrades, CHS will be able to offer classes toward Microsoft certification and courses in criminal justice, particularly for students who aren’t headed for college immediately after high school graduation.

The bleachers in the football stadium need footboards to keep small children from falling through, Jones said.

Board member George L. Spaulding Jr. said the Virginia League of High Schools has moved Caroline High to a triple A classification, which now places CHS into sporting events with such notable schools as Henrico High, Tucker High and Dinwiddie High. That means CHS needs up-to-date facilities, such as safe bleachers and a gym with a higher ceiling so that volleyballs and basketballs don’t get trapped in the overhead ductwork during games, which happens frequently.

In other business, Killough said the school custodial staff had made the 35-year-old CHS “look brand new.” The floors were polished and the new paint was done well. Other schools looked equally impressive, he added.

In other business, David McConnell, the school division’s clerk of the works, reported that the art room is not finished at the newly renovated and expanded Bowling Green Elementary. The contractor, Loughridge, has crews working nights and weekends because the contractor is accruing monetary penalties for missing the completion deadline.

The School Board, on a Mack A. Wright motion, voted to pay up to $250,000 to Loughridge as part of a regularly monthly payment. The board still owes the contractor nearly $1 million for the Bowling Green Elementary project, which came with a $10 million price tag.

In other business, the board approved of a memorial garden that will be built with private funds in front of the vocational agriculture building at the old C.T. Smith High School, which was in service from the 1920s until 1969. The request for the garden at the structure in Ladysmith came from a Shirley A. Matiak, a Caroline resident and graduate of the school. She was accompanied by other Caroline residents, Edith Taylor, a graduate, and Joanne Blanton, who taught physical education and social studies at the school.

The three ladies have been able to verify that 400 graduates of the school are still living, and that the oldest living graduate is 100 years old.

In other business, the board approved of policies on employee sick leave, head lice guidelines and anaphylaxis.