New and Im­proved

School con­struc­tion and up­grade projects move through the pipe­line

The Progress-Index Weekend - - COLONIAL HEIGHTS - Michael Buet­tner Staff Writer • Michael Buet­tner may be reached at mbuet­tner@progressindex.com or 722-5155.

CH­ESTER­FIELD – Al­most four years after county res­i­dents approved an am­bi­tious pro­gram of school ren­o­va­tions and new build­ings fo­cused mainly on eastern Ch­ester­field, work is un­der­way on two new schools.

Con­struc­tion of a new Beu­lah El­e­men­tary School started in April and is sched­uled for com­ple­tion a year from now, in time for the 2018-19 school year. The $31 mil­lion project will re­place one of the county's old­est schools; the orig­i­nal school was built in 1928, and sev­eral ad­di­tions have been built over the years since then.

This month, de­mo­li­tion started at Enon El­e­men­tary School off East Hun­dred Road, and ground­break­ing on con­struc­tion of a new school on the same site is sched­uled for Septem­ber. Bud­geted at $31 mil­lion, the project is sched­uled to be ready for stu­dents in Jan­uary 2019. In the mean­time, Enon is merg­ing tem­po­rar­ily with the nearby Mar­guerite Chris­tian El­e­men­tary.

Two projects in the Ma­toaca Dis­trict have yet to get started. Site se­lec­tion is un­der­way for a new Ma­toaca El­e­men­tary, bud­geted at about $34 mil­lion, with con­struc­tion sched­uled to start dur­ing the 2019-20 fis­cal year. Plans call for three academic wings, for grades K-1, 2-3 and 4-5, with a cen­tral core hous­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive and guid­ance of­fices, kitchen, cafe­te­ria, gym, me­dia cen­ter and com­puter and art labs.

Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to the school sys­tem's cur­rent Cap­i­tal Im­prove­ment Plan, Ettrick El­e­men­tary is sched­uled for a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion to be un­der­taken dur­ing the 2020 fis­cal year, with an es­ti­mate cost of around $20 mil­lion. Cur­rently, that project is "un­der eval­u­a­tion to re­fine the scope of work," ac­cord­ing to school di­vi­sion of­fi­cials..

In the Ber­muda Dis­trict, Har­row­gate El­e­men­tary is sched­uled for ren­o­va­tions pro­jected to cost about $19 mil­lion, also sched­uled for the 2020 fis­cal year.

Those projects were part of a list of school ren­o­va­tions and re­place­ments that county vot­ers approved in a bond ref­er­en­dum in 2013. The ref­er­en­dum au­tho­rized the is­suance of about $300 mil­lion in bonds to pay for the work, orig­i­nally sched­uled to take five years.

How­ever, a meals tax was also pro­posed as a way to pay off the bonds. When vot­ers re­jected that pro­vi­sion, school and county of­fi­cials came up with a plan to stretch out the work over seven years in­stead, to avoid hav­ing to bor­row more money to see it through.

Also in­cluded in the bond ref­er­en­dum project list were ren­o­va­tions at Prov­i­dence Mid­dle and Manch­ester Mid­dle. Work at Prov­i­dence, bud­geted at $28 mil­lion, is un­der­way, while work at Manch­ester, with a cur­rent bud­get es­ti­mate of $43 mil­lion, is sched­uled to start next year.

Not in­cluded on the ref­er­en­dum list but added later: a new Mid­loth­ian-area el­e­men­tary school that is needed to re­lieve over­crowd­ing at Watkins El­e­men­tary. Cur­rently called Old Hun­dred El­e­men­tary, the project has a $34 mil­lion bud­get es­ti­mate and is sched­uled to get un­der­way next spring and open for the 2019-20 school year.

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