Site Purchase Completed for New Halifax County High School | Education
The purchase of the Powell land on the site of the new Halifax County High School building has been completed and civil works for the school are scheduled to begin on Friday.
However, at Monday’s Halifax County School Board meeting, Jim Boyd, a partner at Grimm + Parker Architects, said that by law architects cannot complete the school’s schematic design until the construction manager at risk is not on board.
Also on Monday, Steve Mundt, a partner at Grimm + Parker Architects, provided four different design schemes for the new school, called 11 AD.
“The goal is to have a footprint for this building by the end of this month,” Boyd told school board members.
The “A” design option has three floors, with the auditorium, cafeteria and gymnasium all on the first floor, the main classrooms, vocational and technical education spaces and the library on the second floor, and the science classrooms on the third floor, detailed Mundt.
Design option “B” is a two-story classroom bar concept, with longer classroom wings than in option “A,” Mundt explained. Other than that, option “B” is similar to option “A”.
Option ‘C’ is a three-story concept, which differs from options ‘A’ and ‘B’ by having a side entrance for the auditorium.
“It makes it a bit easier to separate the auditorium from the rest of the school,” Mundt explained. Boyd added that having an area of the auditorium where civic groups could meet is one of the things on HCHS director Mike Lewis’ “wish list” and the design of the auditorium in option “C” is ideal for civic groups to meet in the bottom. part, with seats taking a higher slope towards the back of the house.
Melissa Hicks, Administrator of ED-3, commented: “Option ‘C’ is attractive in that you have an entrance leading directly into the auditorium. As I imagine the community will be using this school, they will be using the gymnasium and auditorium a lot. »
The final design concept, Option “D”, differs from the other concepts in several ways, Mundt explained. It has two floors on one leg of the school and three floors on the other leg. The cafeteria design also provides students with four separate dining halls, providing smaller eating areas as well as the main dining hall, Mundt said.
ED-8 administrator Walter Potts said he liked the design of the cafeteria in Option ‘D’, giving students their preferred option to dine in separate areas rather than all in. the same area. He said he also liked the concept of having two stories on one leg and three stories on another leg of the building, as it adds “uniqueness” to the building.
The majority of school board members expressed a preference for the “A” design, while incorporating the split cafeteria concept into this design if possible.
“I like ‘A’ because it’s concise. I like the idea of having administration and boards on opposite sides with people coming into the school,” commented school board chair Kathy Fraley. “‘A’ just seems to be geared more towards looking at teenagers.”
New Halifax County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Amy Huskin agreed, saying she preferred option ‘A’, while taking student preferences into account, such as the split dining room concept.
“If you can fit some of these student requests into Option ‘A’, I think it’s a win-win,” Huskin said.
Vice President Roy Keith Lloyd asked if there was a way to accomplish the split dining room concept in Option ‘D’ without losing the ‘sightlines’ in other design concepts.
“I hate to sacrifice those sightlines on the discipline side,” he said.
ED-7 Administrator Keith McDowell said he would like the Option ‘D’ cafeteria design to be incorporated into the Option ‘A’ design, which he prefers in all. ED-6 administrator Lacey Shotwell also said she liked options “A” and “D”, but would ultimately choose option “A”.
The four school designs range between 249,000 square feet and 250,000 square feet, Mundt told the board, in response to a question from Shotwell about the difference in square footage of each design. Shotwell also asked about the size of the main gymnasium in each design, and Mundt replied that the main gymnasium was the same size in all design concepts.
Potts asked if each school’s design included space for teacher planning. Mundt answered yes, each academic wing would include space for teacher planning.
Mundt also discussed the number of teaching positions currently in the high school and how many would be needed, taking into account the expected decline in enrollment by the time construction of the new school is complete.
Currently, Mundt said the school has a total of 74 teaching positions, including two at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, with an average of 21 students per class. Today, the school has 1,407 students.
The expected enrollment at HCHS in fall 2025 is 1,300 students. For that number of students, Mundt said that, hypothetically, the school would need 62 teaching positions to maintain proper student-to-teacher ratios. However, in order to maintain the school’s current utilization of 75% of classrooms at any given time, Mundt said the school would need 83 teaching positions and the estimated cost of adding nine classrooms to maintain this usage is just over $4. million.
Lloyd asked if it was possible to add more classrooms to each school design. Mundt responded that adding eight or nine classrooms to one of the school design strategies would be feasible.
Freddie Edmunds, administrator of ED-5, who expressed no preference for any of the four options over another, said he was not in favor of anything that would increase the building’s costs school.
On the new school budget, Boyd provided low and high estimates for the sports facility budget. At the low end, he said the overall cost range would be $7.9 million. At the high end, these costs would be $10.95 million, with the highest costs being $3 million for demolition and $1.5 million each for grading and a sod field.
Mundt also shared the results of a community high school design survey with board members at Monday’s meeting. He said the online survey was still open and had 352 respondents so far. Of those respondents, he shared, 43% are parents with HCHS students, 77% say they visit the school “frequently” or “regularly,” and 37% are parents with prospective HCHS students.
“It’s a group of people who know the school very well,” Mundt concluded.
Safety emerged as a major concern in the design of the new school, with 97 out of 137 respondents answering the question whether they feel safe in the current school building “No” and 112 out of 281 respondents to the question “What is the only thing the new school should have?” give the answer “security/safety”.
In the interest of security, ED-4 Administrator Jay Camp asked how the Option D outdoor dining area would be secured. Mundt said there are a number of ways to secure the outdoor dining area, such as having a door, and he assumed that the outdoor dining area would be supervised by teachers/administration during lunch hours.
At Monday’s meeting, trustees also approved payment of final bills for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Lloyd moved the motion to pay the bills and Shotwell seconded the motion, with Potts casting the only dissenting vote.
Hicks raised a concern about the cost of textbooks, listed at $450,000. She said she had heard from teachers, who told her they hadn’t used the new textbooks this year because their students were so far behind in grade level due to being away from school during COVID. -19. Potts agreed that buying textbooks that aren’t used is a concern.
Huskin explained that in his old school district, for example, new textbooks for each grade level are only ordered once every few years, so even though new textbooks haven’t been fully implemented this school year , they will be used “for the next seven years” by teachers and students. HCPS Acting Superintendent Valdivia Hall also explained that while the manuals are reviewed regularly, they are not ordered every year.