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Berkeley Co. Schools building plan includes fifth high school

Public hearing set for July 14 for residents to ask questions, make comments or submit statements concerning the plan

July 03, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- By 2020 or soon after, a fifth high school in Berkeley County could be under construction, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said last week.

Even without a fifth high school, Berkeley County Schools' proposed Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) for the next 10 years projects that five new schools will be constructed in addition to the fourth high school at Spring Mills that already is in the works and a planned new middle school near Gerrardstown, W.Va., Arvon said.

The fifth high school would be the sixth building to be built at the end of the third and final phase of the 10-year plan. Arvon said.

A public hearing will be July 14 at 6 p.m. for residents to ask questions, make comments or submit statements concerning the CEFP. The hearing will be in the board office at Berkeley County Schools' administration building at 401 S. Queen St.

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The CEFP charts the course for the school system through 2020 and must be approved by the Berkeley County Board of Education, the state Board of Education and the School Building Authority of West Virginia. The plan includes grade configurations, enrollment history, projections and enrollment sizes for schools; number of schools that can be operated within the school budget; and conditions of schools, according to the school districts

Three of the six new schools in the plan are envisioned to be built at a new educational campus in eastern Berkeley County as part of Phase 2 of the 10-year plan, Arvon said. Primary, intermediate and middle schools would be built there, he said.

A primary school in the Hedgesville-Martinsburg area and another primary school in front of the Mill Creek Intermediate School campus also are being eyed for Phase 2, Arvon said.

For the new Mill Creek school, the district owns enough property at the existing campus and is exploring options to develop "core" facilities that could be shared by both buildings, Arvon said.

Phase 1 includes the new high school at Spring Mills that is projected to open in 2013, the middle school at the Mountain Ridge educational campus near Gerrardstown and two 20-classroom additions at Musselman High School and Martinsburg North Middle School. The additions are expected to be completed in 2011. After the addition at Martinsburg North Middle is done, the older building is to be renovated.

Arvon said the school district has an aggressive plan to complete all four Phase 1 projects in the next four years.

Arvon said he hopes the first two phases of the CEFP can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, dozens of portable classrooms on school campuses across the county.

More than 100 of the trailer-like buildings have been needed because enrollment has surged by more than 4,000 students since 2000, overwhelming building capacities.

"A lot depends on whether we receive, as projected, a 28 percent increase in population (in the next 10 years)," Arvon said.

If enrollment growth remains about 200 students per year, the portables potentially could be eliminated after Phase 2, Arvon said.

In addition to the new buildings, Arvon said the 10-year plan includes renovation and maintenance plans, including technology upgrades, roof replacement and general facility improvements such as replacing auditorium seating and restroom fixtures.

Facilities Director Donald Mitchell said he expects 50 percent of the school's roofs would be replaced in the next 10 years.

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