The Albemarle County School Board on Thursday approved its Capital Improvement Program request, which outlines the use of $109.3 million for the maintenance and construction of school facilities over the next five fiscal years. Credit: Credit: Josh Mandell, Charlottesville Tomorrow

The Albemarle County School Board on Thursday approved a $109.3 million request for its Capital Improvement Program through fiscal year 2023.

The request includes some changes to the timing and scope of additions to Crozet, Red Hill and Scottsville elementary schools.

This is the first year of a two-year submittal and review process for the school division’s Capital Improvement Program. School projects ultimately must be approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors.

In July, the school division’s Long Range Planning Advisory Committee issued its recommendations for facilities improvements to the county School Board.

The Long Range Planning Advisory Committee revised cost estimates in its report this year due to “rapid and significant increases in project costs” throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Construction costs have increased as much as 15 to 20 percent over the past year, according to the report.

The consolidation of B.F. Yancey Elementary School in June could hasten the construction of additions to Red Hill and Scottsvile Elementary. Red Hill absorbed 44 students from Yancey this year, while Scottsville took in 60 students.

A four-classroom modular unit with bathroom facilities was installed at Scottsville to accommodate the sudden growth of its student population. Instructional funds previously approved in the budget for Yancey were reappropriated by the School Board to Scottsville in order to pay for the structure, which cost $210,977.

A planned 17,500 square foot addition to Scottsville Elementary would include four additional classrooms, two smaller resource classrooms, two offices, a bathroom, and a new gym. Construction of the $11.7 million project is scheduled to begin in summer 2019 and finish before the 2020-2021 school year.

Red Hill is awaiting the second phase of a comprehensive modernization and expansion project. Red Hill underwent a $1.37 million modernization before the 2016-2017 school year.

A proposed 6,300 square foot addition on the south end of Red Hill Elementary would include a new gymnasium, storage space and offices for physical education teachers. The current gym will be renovated and repurposed into instructional space.

Phase Two of Red Hill’s expansion is projected to cost $4.6 million, and is scheduled for completion ahead of the 2022-2023 school year.

The School Board opted to reduce the size of new gyms at Red Hill and Scottsville by 2,500 square feet, lowering the projected cost of each addition by approximately $800,000.

The new gyms will be similar in size to those at Yancey, Crozet, Meriwether and other small and mid-sized elementary schools.

The request also includes a $9.7 million addition to Crozet Elementary, scheduled to be completed before the 2022-2023 school year. The 16,325 square-foot addition would include eight classrooms, three smaller resource classrooms, and office spaces.

The School Board requested $25.9 million for the school division’s ongoing work to modernize classrooms at elementary and middle schools.

The modernized classrooms are given new furniture, finishes, casework and electrical lighting, and often new windows to add more natural light.

The modernization program also funds the construction of designated maker spaces and renovations of science labs and other specialty classrooms.

“If you go into our school buildings and look at spaces that were modernized, they really stand out,” said Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer for the county schools. “I think they represent excellent work.”

The School Board requested over $41.4 million for the division’s maintenance and replacement program through the 2022-2023 school year.

Newly requested safety improvements to the roofs of various schools — amounting to $250,000 — brought the school division’s five-year budget for roof repairs and replacements to $10.5 million. Also new to this year’s request is $792,000 in planned improvements to sidewalks at multiple county schools.

The request funds new gym floors for Albemarle High School and Western Albemarle High School in 2019 at a combined cost of $990,000.

The Albemarle High School gym floor was approved by the Board of Supervisors in a previous Capital Improvement Program.

Projects deleted from this year’s request include $1.6 million in previously requested HVAC improvements and $200,000 for solar panels at various schools.

Out-year projects anticipated for 2023 through 2028 include a new elementary school, budgeted at $18 million to $20 million.

A site for a new elementary school was proffered as a part of the approved rezoning for the Brookhill Development at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Polo Grounds Road.

The Long Range Planning Advisory Committee’s report said the need for a new elementary at Brookhill would increase if Hollymead Elementary or other nearby schools experienced capacity issues. However, enrollment projections by the school division last fall did not predict that Hollymead would exceed its functional capacity within the next 10 years.

The potential costs of increasing the capacity of the county’s high schools — or the construction of a new high school — is not yet factored into the Capital Improvement Program.

Albemarle County has hired HBA Architecture & Interior Design to conduct a capacity analysis for its high schools and identify facility requirements for High School 2022, a district-wide initiative to redesign the high school experience for graduates in the class of 2022 and beyond. A consultant is expected to share findings with the School Board in October.

The Capital Improvement Program approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2017 projected the cost of future high school improvements and additions to range from $20 million to $100 million.

The 2016 bond referendum added $35 million for school projects to the 5-year CIP adopted last April. The School Board discussed the possibility of another bond referendum in 2018 in a joint meeting with the Board of Supervisors earlier this year.


Josh Mandell

Josh Mandell graduated from Yale in 2016 and has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association with five awards for education writing, health, science and environmental writing and multimedia reporting.