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December 8, 2016

Consolidate middle schools, say panel and consultants

Photos/Cassandra Brown
Advisory committee member Jon Nuckles reviews documents before the group finalizes its recommendation.
Recommended Options
> Consolidated middle school on Taylor campus

• Cost: $55.3 million.

• Timeline: 3 years, 11 months.

• Capacity: 1,000 students.

• Details: Taylor would be demolished and replaced with a new building behind the adjacent Warrenton Community Center, near Brumfield Elementary. The plan might include a shared bus loop with Brumfield and a separate entrance for other vehicles. Taylor’s existing site would get used for sports fields.

> Consolidation plus Auburn Middle School addition

• Cost: $61 million, with $7.6 million of that for 10 more classrooms at Auburn Middle.

• Timeline: 3 years, 11 months.

• Capacity: 900 at new consolidated school and 300 more at Auburn.

• Details: The county’s second largest middle school, Auburn has 558 students and capacity for 657.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After four months of deliberation, citizens and consultants recommend the consolidation of Taylor and Warrenton middle schools.

Based on community feedback, consultants suggest building a new school on the Taylor campus along East Shirley Avenue in Warrenton.

To address the two aging middle schools, the recommendation has two options:

• Build a consolidated school with a capacity of 1,000 students.

• Build a 10-classroom addition at Auburn Middle near New Baltimore in addition to a consolidated school with a capacity of 900 students on the Taylor site.

However, a 40-member advisory committee and consultants Wednesday night stopped short of suggesting which option the school board should adopt.

“How this is done . . . should be decided by the board at this time,” said David Sturtz, a project leader with DeJong-Richter, hired to lead the community deliberations. “It wouldn’t be the best decision for us or the school board to flip a coin on that.”

Consolidation would cost an estimated $55.3 million to $61.4 million. The higher cost would include the Auburn addition.

Building two new schools to replace Taylor and Warrenton would cost an estimated $98 million.

Consolidation “was my first choice,” said Rachel Beattie, a committee member whose three children attend Fauquier public schools.

“I think the recommendation is in the spirit of what we discussed,” Ms. Beattie said. “If money were not an issue, we could do two separate schools . . . . But, money is an issue.

“As long as we are not taking away from the educational experience, (consolidation) makes the most sense for our county,” she said. “Community isn’t based on size; it’s based on the culture that the educators and staff instill at the school.”

Taylor Middle Principal Ruth Nelson said, “I’m in support of the recommendation. Initially I thought, renovate or rebuild both schools. But as I went through the process, I learned . . . this is the recommendation that makes the most sense overall.

“We can’t discount the financial part of it,” Ms. Nelson said. “And, that was a whopping price tag, one that wouldn’t have been supported in this county.”

A recent survey indicates that Fauquier citizens prefer consolidation rather than retaining both middle schools.

Forty-four citizens completed the survey during the community meeting in November. The school system received 293 responses from the online survey, which ran Nov. 10 to 16.

Survey results include:

• 133 individuals chose building a consolidated school on the Taylor campus as their first choice.

• 107 chose a consolidated school there and a 10-classroom addition at Auburn Middle near New Baltimore as their first choice.

• 64 percent strongly support consolidating the schools on the Taylor campus.

• 54 percent strongly support the consolidated school, plus the Auburn addition.

About 40 committee members reviewed the recommendation and made suggestions on new school designs during Wednesday night’s meeting.

“I think this has been a great process,” Ms. Beattie said. “It’s been really transparent and inclusive, with a fair representation of the community.”

Consultants will present the recommendation to the school board in January.

Ultimately, the county of board of supervisors, which controls funding, will decide will decide what to do with Fauquier’s two oldest school buildings.

For more information about the middle school modernization project, click here.

Recent coverage

Citizens continue reviewing middle school options

Middle school planning turns to consolidation

Middle School Advisory Committee meeting #4 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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