Westside Now Costs $66 Million – Smithfield Times
The school committee chooses a new prototype
Replacing Westside Elementary with a new college could cost more than $66 million, according to the latest estimates from Isle of Wight County Schools.
Jeff Harris, co-director of RRMM Architects’ K-12 design studio, has quoted the Isle of Wight School Board at a $66.4 million price tag to replace the 1960s school, which currently houses pupils Years 4-6, with a new building inspired by Col Fred Cherry Middle School in Suffolk that would house pupils in Years 5-7.
Renovating the existing school could potentially cost just $47.2 million, not including design fees or furnishings, Harris said, but ‘there are a lot of unknowns’ given the age of the building. .
The school board selected RRMM for the Westside project in 2020, planning at the time to build a larger version of Georgie D. Tyler Middle School in Windsor, which the Isle of Wight had built for around $22 million in 2014.
But a committee of students, teachers and parents is now recommending the Isle of Wight choose Cherry as the prototype instead. The 166,000-square-foot school, which opened in 2018, offers self-contained wings for every grade level, which school officials say would also work well with Westside’s “house system.” Modeled on the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, in Westside, students are assigned to one of four “houses”, each with their own name, motto and color, and participate in weekly and monthly challenges against other houses. .
Rather than being stacked along walls, Cherry Middle’s lockers are counter-height to create additional workspaces for students, and its classrooms have windows facing hallways so teachers can keep watch. students entering and leaving the classroom simultaneously. The design also includes an open concept cafeteria that would adjoin a central “main street” corridor.
The Cherry Middle design is much newer than Georgie Tyler’s, which, although built in 2014, was first drawn 30 years ago.
“It’s outdated,” Westside principal Matt Johnson said.
The school board had estimated a cost of $35 million for the project in 2020 under the Georgie Tyler option, but according to Harris, the current construction market has pushed the estimated cost up to $65.4 million. . The Cherry design, he said, would cost $66.4 million.
School board chair Denise Tynes has opposed the attempt to save money by renovating the existing school – recalling from her days as a teacher in the mid-1990s that work was being done in the building to remove the asbestos.
“If we retrofit it, if we come across more asbestos…the cost is going to go up even more,” Tynes said.
The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors had borrowed around $34 million in 2020 to replace another school, Hardy Elementary, but inflation and pandemic-related supply chain issues have driven the cost up. cost to $36.8 million last year. Supervisors had planned to borrow more than $30 million more this year for Westside, but canceled funding for the project in favor of borrowing up to $19.5 million to fund the additional cost of Hardy and D other capital needs.
If a new source of funding for Westside were available, the design of the new school, costs could still fluctuate up or down over the 3 to 3 ½ years it would take before students could enter the building, Harris said, estimating a similar time frame of 3 to 3½ years for the renovation of the existing school.