At a 3-hour meeting today, the School Board tentatively decided to pursue redevelopment for Huguenot High School, Broad Rock Elementary School, Oak Grove Elementary School, and George Mason Elementary School as Phase 1 of overhauling the city’s aging stock of school buildings. M.L.King Middle School, on the original list for redevelopment, was shelved in favor of the 3rd elementary school. Opportunity for public comment and an official vote will take place at the next School Board meeting on November 16.
The agenda for the meeting outlined the School Board’s intent to: review the list of schools for which new contruction is a priority, prioritize schools for construction, set opportunities for public comment, and develop a recommendation to the board. An attached document described the 5 key factors to consider as: 1) instructional priorities, 2) demographic demands, 3) facilities shortcomings, 4) available financing, and 5) Mayor/City Council priorities.
The Mayor’s proposal calls for a new Huguenot High School, an unspecified middle school, and 2 unspecified elementary schools to be reconstructed or overhauled. The 9 schools considered for redevelopment, with costs, were:
- $ 5,000,000 – Amelia Street School
- $10,000,000 – Capital City Program
- $27,700,000 – Broad Rock Elementary
- $35,000,000 – Elkhart Middle School
- $29,600,000 – E.H.S.Green Elementary
- $81,300,000 – Huguenot High School
- $36,900,000 – M.L.King Middle School
- $27,700,000 – George Mason Elementary
- $27,600,000 – Oak Grove Elementary
The money for Amelia Street School and the Capital City Program has already been committed. In addition, Mayor Jones has already included Huguenot High School in Phase 1, a move vocally supported by the 9th District’s Evette Wilson and the 5th District’s Betsy Carr. The discussion then centered around which of the other schools should be a part of the initial push, and which priorities should be used to determine how to approach this.
After much back on forth on funding, demographics, and the need for future data, the 7 participating School Board members and Superintendent Brandon were polled on which schools should be a priority. The first set of polling indicated overwhelming support for a new Broad Rock Elementary, and strong support for George Mason Elementary, Martin Luther King Middle School, and Oak Grove Elementary (in that order).
In the following discussion to winnow the list further, population growth and school crowding on southside were brought up by both Wilson and the 8th District’s Page. In an attempt to bump up the chances for Oak Grove ES, Page pointed out that money has already been spent on the design work for all 3 elementary schools, with less work being completed for MLK MS; her point was that it would save money to move on the 3 elementary schools and shelve the plan for MLK MS. The 6th District’s Chandra Smith then spoke heatedly on the need for work at MLK MS. A repolling after the discussion dropped support for both George Mason ES and MLK MS to behind Oak Grove ES, pushing MLK MS to 4th on the list.
School Board 3rd District representative Murdoch-Kitt was not present at the meeting. School Board 2nd District representative Gray came in about an hour after the start of the meeting and did not take part in any of the polling. Gray asked questions about the legality of the process regarding from where the funding and direction were coming; this confused me a bit: look for a post by Isaac Graves or perhaps comments from others present (you know who you are…) for clarification on this.