BVSB To Study Facilities

The Buena Vista School Board voted to proceed with a feasibility study of the division’s facilities to best determine the path to a new, combined school building.

The Board held a special-called meeting Thursday, Nov. 12, where it approved looking ahead to an upgrade led by RRMM Architects of Roanoke.

Superintendent John Keeler first announced the division’s intention for a combined pre-K-7 facility at the September regular Board meeting. At that meeting, Keeler explained the aging elementary and middle school facilities are becoming cost ineffective in their maintenance. The Board is seeking a route to a combined school building that creates savings long-term and promotes the division’s goals for students.

Ben Motely of RRMM presented to the Board the evening of Nov. 12 the steps a feasibility study calls for, recommending a two-phased approach to planning for a combined facility.

Phase I, Motley explained, would examine the division’s needs on a “macro” level. The first phase of a feasibility study will take into consideration the big-picture needs of a combined pre-K-7 school, determining if BVCPS should pursue the construction of a new facility or put an addition on Kling Elementary. An estimated cost for both avenues may be identified at Phase I.

Phase II of the feasibility study will focus closer on significant functional and cost differences between architectural choices, identifying what the longterm goals of the school are, Motely explained. Detail analysis of factors like staffing and transportation may come in the second phase to further “dig deeper” and determine costs.

At the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Kelly Linkenhoker inquired of the potential for maintaining social distancing guidelines, as the COVID-19 pandemic may persist and create new mandates in schools.

Motley described a potential commitment to social distancing as a philosophical decision by the division. As many divisions turn to more Project Based Learning and collaborative approaches to education, he explained, more student learning is occurring outside of the classroom in “breakout” and adapted instruction spaces. Motley added considerations of other school systems in dealing with COVID-19 in the future are adequacy of isolated nurse’s stations and building areas’ ability to “quarantine.”

Motley told the Board whether the division decides to build a new facility or renovate Kling, 16 to 20 months can be expected for construction after a nine to 12 month period for design completion.

Following the presentation, Board members voted unanimously to move forward with a feasibility study for a combined facility, many agreeing such a change will better meet the goals of the school system in the future.

“This is exciting,” Chairwoman Teresa Ellison said following the vote.

The News-Gazette

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