State officials give passing grade to new school design

December 29, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION


State officials have signed off on the design of a second high school in Jefferson County and construction of the facility, expected to cost about $48 million, could begin in February, officials said.

The state School Building Authority must review any plans for a new school to make sure the facility complies with state regulations pertaining to classroom space and other issues, said David Sneed, chief of architectural services for the School Building Authority.

The School Building Authority made some suggestions on the construction of the new high school, but the ideas do not have to be used in the design, Sneed said.


For the most part, Sneed said the School Building Authority believes the Jefferson County school officials should be allowed to design the school the way they want since a large chunk of the money for the project was raised locally.

"We really didn't cut anything out," Sneed said of the facility, which is to be constructed next to the 3,200-home Huntfield development along U.S. 340 south of Charles Town.

The school is needed to serve a growing student population in the county. Jefferson High School, the only high school in the county, is more than 30 years old and has served as many as 1,600 students, although it is only designed for 1,200. Its student population is among the largest in the state.

A renovation of Jefferson High School also is under way.

Last May, Jefferson County voters approved a $19 million bond issue to help pay for the new school.

The rest of the funding will come from the state.

The school system will advertise for construction bids soon, which will give school officials a better idea of the exact cost of the school, said Jefferson County Board of Education member Delores Milstead.

Milstead said the design of the school still calls for an architectural style that will draw in classic designs like those at Shepherdstown Middle School and Wright Denny Intermediate School.

"I think we're coming down on it very nicely," Milstead said of the project's progress.

Construction typically begins about 30 days after a bid is awarded, Sneed said.

Sneed said construction could begin in late February or March and it will take about 18 to 22 months to complete it.

Although the school will have a capacity for 1,200 students, "core" areas like the library and cafeteria will have a capacity to serve 1,500 students, Sneed said.

"Space shouldn't be a problem, we hope, for a while," Sneed said.

The design of the new school includes a science and technology center, which will have computer labs for both students and adults to use, school officials have said.

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