Surveys to be sent to parents, community meetings to be held at elementary schools.

By Sylvia Allen

Editor

LAWRENCEVILLE – The Brunswick County School Board was presented two new options for Brunswick County Public Schools at a meeting held virtually on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Both options recommend closing all three elementary schools and J. S. Russell Middle School and building a new facility. One option would be for students Pre-K through grade 6 and the other option would be for students Pre-K through grade 8. Both would be two story buildings. Athletic stadium options were included. No vote was taken.

As background three options to meet the long range needs for Brunswick County Public Schools were presented to the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors and to the public. The supervisors are in the process of adopting an operating budget for July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022 and a Capital Improvements Project Budget for the same period. The supervisors held a public hearing on the operating budget for Brunswick County Public Schools on April 21, 2021 that included an increase in local funding and the supervisors are expected to adopt the proposed school budget on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The supervisors are holding a public hearing on the proposed Consolidated Budget for FY2021-2022 on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. at the Brunswick County Government Building, 228 North Main Street.

Josh Bower with Crabtere, Rohrbaugh & Associates, the architectural firm working on the Division Wide Feasibility Study, started working on this project around 2018 then the pandemic hit and work on the project halted.

At the virtual meeting held on May 4 Option 1 would close all three elementary schools and the middle school. A new Pre K-6 elementary school would be constructed adjacent to the High School Stadium Site. The High School would receive a classroom addition and limited renovations with a grade alignment of 7-12.

Bower presented the pros and cons for Option 1.

Pros: Consolidate buildings down to one campus.

Reduce buildings from 7 to 3.

High school addition would permit a clear separation of the 7-8 and 9-12 classes.

Construction phasing would limit disruption of educational program.

Greater collaboration among teachers of the same grade level (elementary).

Larger classes and collaborative spaces will provide greater opportunities for hands-on activities and collaborative projects.

Access to athletic complex for elementary students (possible opportunity for intramurals).

Cons: Division would close three elementary schools and the middle school.

Bower said the projected cost range for Option 1 is $43,017,681 to $48,180,864. The breakdown is: new elementary school for Pre K-6 - $33,788,944 to $37,254,933, high school additions/select renovations - $6,507,532 to $7,914,904, High School Tech Center, capital improvement - $1,696,216 to $1,781,027, School Board office, addition at high school - $1,025,000 to $1,230,000.

The potential cost savings totals $1,266,161.

Bower provided additional information. Open academic commons that have multiple teaching walls, portable casework and a variety of furniture systems can accommodate various teaching methods and settings. Fixed casework provides counter top work areas, sinks and a variety of storage options to support grade level teaching. Commons can be equipped with enhanced technology including dual projectors that can be controlled by teachers’ lap tops, wireless technology and an enhanced listening system.

Outdoor learning spaces – The incorporation of a courtyard allows natural daylight in all educational learning spaces. It is accessible from the commons, media center and academic wing and it provides an opportunity for exercise and social activities while being secure can be easily monitored. Both the plaza and courtyard become an extension of the commons and cafeteria by corresponding the landscaping and paving scoring pattern to interior elements.

Several photos were included in the presentation as examples of the commons and the outdoor learning spaces.

Option 2 – This option would close all three elementary schools and the middle school. A new Pre K-8 elementary/middle school would be constructed adjacent to the High School Stadium Site. The High School and Tech Center would receive capital improvements over time.

Pros: Consolidate buildings down to one campus.

Reduce buildings from 7 to 3.

Construction phasing would limit disruption of educational program.

Greater collaboration among teachers of the same grade level and across grade levels (elementary and middle).

Larger classes and collaborative spaces will provide great opportunities for hands-on activities and collaborative projects.

Access to athletic complex for elementary and middle school students (possible opportunity for elementary intramurals).

Cons: Division would close three elementary schools and the middle school.

High school would receive capital improvements.

The project cost range is $43,017,681 to $48,180,864.

The breakdown is new elementary school, Pre K-grade 8, $38,600,249 to $43,388,810, high school, capital improvement, 9-12, $1,696,216 to $1,781,027, High School Tech Center, capital improvement, $1,696,216 to $1,781,027, School Board office, $1,025,000 to $1,230,000.

The potential cost savings totals $1,362,556.

Brunswick County Public Schools Athletic Stadium Option A – probable cost range is $7,335,000 to $8,802,000. The breakdown is bleachers and press box (2,000) - $1,450,000, toilet rooms/concessions - $1,690,000, synthetic grass - $1,800,000 (including stormwater), stadium lighting - $275,000, walkways/fence/ticket booth - $125,000, all weather running track - $45,000, tennis courts - $280,000, baseball field - $480,000, softball field - $390,000.

Option B – probable cost range is $8,250,000 to $9,900,000. The breakdown is 2500 bleachers and press box - $1,712,500, toilet rooms/concessions - $2,012,500, synthetic grass - $2,800,000 (including stormwater), stadium lighting - $475,000, walkways/fence/ticket booth - $125,000, all weather running track - $800,000, scoreboard (2) - $45,000, tennis courts - $280,000.

Bower said Option A - Construction of a new elementary school on the vacant land across from the high school campus. Construct a new athletic stadium on the current stadium site. Relocate the bus garage to vacated Totaro Elementary School.

Option B – Construction of a new elementary school at the bus garage site. Construct a new athletic stadium on the current stadium site. Relocate the bus garage to the vacated Totaro Elementary School.

Option C – Construction of a new elementary school adjacent to Totaro Elementary School after constructed, demolish Totaro Elementary School. Construct a new athletic stadium on the current stadium site.

Facilities study timeline – May 12, 2021 - Steering Committee meeting at Brunswick High School at 6 p.m.

May 13, 2021 – Prep for community meetings (to be announced)

Community meetings - May 17, 2021 – Totaro/RMS at 6 p.m. at Totaro cafeteria, live stream; May 26, 2021 – Meherrin-Powellton Elementary School at 6 p.m. MP cafeteria, live stream; May 27, 2021 – Red Oak-Sturgeon at 6 p.m. ROSE cafeteria, live stream.

On Friday, May 7, 2021 the meetings were posted on the school’s website: www.brunswickcps.org.

Surveys will be sent to parents at each location after the presentation. Survey data due by June 3, 2021. Potential joint school board/supervisors meeting on June 15 or June 17.

July 2021 – February 2022 – design phase of the facility option, CRA; February 2022 – place options for bid, RFP public notice; March 2022 – acceptance of bids. Work to begin March or April 2022.

Dr. Kristy Somerville Midgette, Division Superintendent, thanked Bower for his help working on the feasibility study that began in 2018. She thanked the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors for their support. Dr. Midgette said administration routinely evaluates and makes changes to staffing.

Timothy Puryear, Vice Chair, asked about the water tower that was located near the school. Bower said he would investigate any utility easements.

Puryear asked about making the changes in bus routes. Dr. Midgette said administration purchased a system that calculates the most efficient route once the data is entered. She said they will be serving the same number of students. She went onto say that each year administration deals with people retiring and leaving the system and they make the necessary adjustments.

Bower said that they are recommending putting the concession stand and restrooms under the bleachers. There was a lengthy discussion regarding using synthetic grass compared to grass. Bower said the advantage is that synthetic grass allows the facility to be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Roy Warwick, Chair, thanked Bower and his staff for their hard work preparing the new options. He said the next step would be for the Steering Committee to meet on May 12, 2021 and for community meetings at each school be scheduled.

Puryear thanked Dr. Midgette and her staff stressing the need for community input.

Dr. Carolyn Jones also thanked Bower and Dr. Midgette saying it was a job well done.

For more information about the proposed building project, call (434) 848-3138.