Plan calls for three new schools

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

Suffolk could add three more schools to its division in the next four years under a plan presented to the School Board last week.

The capital improvements plan calls for the addition of an elementary school in the southern part of the city as well as an elementary and a middle school in North Suffolk.

“This plan is based on our needs and where student populations are growing,” said superintendent Deran Whitney.

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The southern elementary school would become a replacement for Robertson and Southwestern elementary schools and serve 700 students under the plan.

Terry Napier, the schools director of facilities and planning, said design work has already begun on this school.

“We could finish construction and open it in 2014,” he said.

The project is estimated to cost $17.5 million, a total that was adopted by the City Council in its 2011-2012 capital improvements plan.

Additionally, the new middle school in North Suffolk would open in 2015.

The school would not replace John Yeates Middle School, but rather would become another school in the northern part of the city.

The plan suggests making the school large enough for 1,200 students.

North Suffolk also would get a new elementary school the same year as the middle school that would host 800 students.

The schools’ plan estimates a total cost of $45.7 million to build the middle school; however, the City Council’s plan only allocates $25 million for the project.

The elementary school is expected to cost $22 million.

The City Council didn’t include the project in its improvements.

In addition to the construction projects, the improvement plan sets aside funds for major renovations to nine of the city’s schools over the next 10 years.

John F. Kennedy, Forest Glen and John Yeates middle schools, Driver, Elephant’s Fork, Kilby Shores and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools, and Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools would be remodeled.

Driver Elementary School’s refurbishment would coincide with the planned closing of Florence Bowser Elementary School in 2017.

Driver would be expanded to take on the grade levels — pre-K, kindergarten and first grade — that are now at Florence Bowser.

Whitney said the massive expansion and renovation is comparable to getting a new building.

“We’re looking at a complete renovation, which is almost like new construction,” he said.

The capital improvements plan was presented to the School Board at its Sept. 8 meeting, but the members decided to hold off on voting on the plan until they have more time to evaluate it.