Schools approve capital proposal

Published 10:39 pm Monday, November 26, 2018

Along with a newly approved Northern Shores Elementary School addition, the Suffolk School Board approved four replacement schools and two new schools to modernize older schools and allow for growth in the city.

These plans were approved as part of the 2020-2029 Capital Improvements Plan. They will submit the plans to City Council to have funding approved.

Before schools are replaced, the Excel Academy at Driver and the College and Career Academy at Pruden will receive repairs and renovations.

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The Excel Academy at Driver, the former Driver Elementary School, was previously approved for $4 million in HVAC, sewer and roof repairs. The funding will also allow for bathroom updates. The previous approval was set for 2022.

The School Board approved for the project to be split over two fiscal years, with $3 million of the work occurring in 2020 and an additional $2 million happening the following year.

The College and Career Academy at Pruden was previously approved to take place during the 2020 fiscal year, but the project has been pushed four years, until 2024. The project will cost $2 million.

The School Board has approved replacement schools for four of its current schools — John F. Kennedy, Forest Glen and John Yeates middle schools and Kilby Shores Elementary School.

The three middle schools approved for replacements were originally constructed in 1965. Both John F. Kennedy and John Yeates were approved to be placed on new land, and Forest Glen will remain on the existing property.

Both John F. Kennedy and Forest Glen should begin their design phases in 2021, and both facilities will be ready to open by 2024, if all goes according to plan.

John F. Kennedy will be replaced and put on new land, and the entire project is set to cost $45.5 million. Forest Glen will utilize the same land where the school currently is, and the entire project is set to cost $42.4 million.

The John Yeates replacement project is scheduled to begin its design phase in 2022, and the school would open in 2025. Just like John F. Kennedy, the John Yeates replacement will be on new land. The project is set to cost $45.5 million.

Kilby Shores is the only elementary school slated for a replacement on the Capital Improvements Plan. The school was originally constructed in 1979.

The design phase is slated to occur in 2024, and the school should open in 2026 with an 800-student capacity. The project will cost $30.7 million.

All four replacement projects were moved ahead a few years compared with what the City Council approved last year.

Farther into the future, the School Board has approved two new schools — a downtown elementary school and a northern end high school.

The new elementary and high schools have approved design phases in 2027 and 2028, respectively.

The elementary school would open with a capacity of 800 students, and the new high school would have the capacity for 2,000 students.

Both projects were pushed up further in the timeline from what City Council previously approved.

The elementary school is proposed at $26.5 million, and the high school is proposed at $56 million.

The priorities of the Capital Improvements Plan are likely to change before they are approved by the City Council.

According to spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, it is up to the city to make the final funding decisions, and the city often changes priorities.

Just like in every capital plan, the first few top priorities are still capital replacements — HVAC, roof systems, stormwater drain and infrastructure — and hazardous materials management.

The totals of these two categories stay steady at $2.5 million and $75,000 respectively. City Council usually approves these priorities as they are presented.