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September 24, 2019

Expanded middle school could open in fall 2022

Photo/Google Earth
The $10-million plan calls for an auxiliary gym, 12 to 14 more classrooms, expanded offices, more parking and a new bus loop at Cedar Lee Middle School in Bealeton.
It’s not a ‘hungry’ construction market. Bids are running high.
— School Executive Director for Administration and Planning David E. Graham Jr.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
If all goes well, an expanded Cedar Lee Middle School would open in time for the fall semester three years from now.

Fauquier’s school board Monday night reviewed a request for architectural/engineering proposals that will go out next week.

Bidders must respond by Oct. 31 with proposals that would add to the Bealeton school:

• An auxiliary gym.

• 12 to 14 new classrooms, including those designed specifically for special education.

• An expanded office area with a secure main entrance.

• A new bus loop and expanded parking.

• Expanded space for teacher support and custodial services.

• Energy-efficient design.

• An optional replacement of aging HVAC equipment on the existing school.

The addition would accommodate up to 300 more students, increasing Cedar Lee’s capacity 1,089 in Grades 6, 7 and 8.

The county supervisors have allocated $10 million for Cedar Lee’s expansion — the first phase of a middle school renovation and consolidation plan that totals an estimated $40 million.

To accommodate expansion, the school board has a contract to buy 1.5 acres next to the campus.

The plan would consolidate the two middle schools in Warrenton, with perhaps 200 students transferred to the expanded Cedar Lee in August 2022.

Either Taylor or Warrenton Middle — built in 1952 and 1934, respectively — would get renovated and expanded. The other school in Warrenton would get repurposed, probably for other educational uses.

County Procurement Director Sue Monaco predicted that a lot of companies will submit proposals for the Cedar Lee design and construction oversight contract.

The design could be complete by January 2021, school Executive Director for Administration and Planning David E. Graham Jr. told the board in Monday night’s work session.

Under that scenario, construction could start that summer and conclude before the August 2022 start of classes, Mr. Graham said.

But, of the construction industry, he warned: “It’s not a ‘hungry’ construction market. Bids are running high.”

It remains unclear how much the project, with all its desired elements, would cost.

“We need a ‘must-have’ list and ‘optional’ list” of features in the project, Mr. Graham suggested.

Cafeteria worker pay

The school board and administrators agreed Monday night to work on a plan that would use surplus funds to raise pay for cafeteria workers.

School nutrition employees start at as little as $10.31 an hour.

The school board in recent years has improved bus driver pay, but cafeteria worker compensation lags.

The school system completed fiscal 2019 on June 30 with about $1.7 million in unspent funds. That represents 1.1 percent of last year’s $140 million budget.

The school board tentatively has agreed to use the unspent funds — requiring board of supervisors’ approval — in seven categories.

But, Monday night could alter that plan. If the board opted to devote, for example, $150,000 to cafeteria worker raises in the second have of this year, it essentially would obligate the school system to $300,000 in fiscal 2021, noted Prashant Shrestha, assistant superintendent for business and planning.

The school board next month will make a decision on raises for cafeteria workers.

Slight enrollment increase

Countywide public school enrollment increased by 42 students over last year as of Oct. 6.

The “post Labor Day” total stood at 11,148.

A year earlier, Fauquier’s 20 public schools had 11,106 students enrolled, according to a report Mr. Shrestha prepared.

“Fall membership” stood at 11,153 on Sept. 30 last year — an increase of 47 from Sept. 6, 2018.

Mr. Shrestha predicted a similar enrollment increase by month’s end this year.

Liberty High has the largest student body of any county school this year with 1,291 students on Sept. 6. LHS operates at 94.2 percent of its capacity.

Kettle Run High, with 1,213 students, has hit 89.2 percent of capacity. With 1,277 students, Fauquier High operates at 79.2 percent of capacity.

Middle school enrollments, as of Sept. 6:

• Auburn, 573 at 87.2 percent of capacity.

• Cedar Lee, 655 at 83 percent.

• Marshall, 469 at 71.5 percent.

• Taylor, 468 at 85.6 percent.

• Warrenton, 435 at 79.8 percent.

Elementary schools:

• Bradley, 366 at 62.2 percent.

• Brumfield, 503 at 70.3 percent.

• Coleman, 350 at 67.3 percent.

• Greenville, 530 at 87.7 percent.

• Miller, 497 at 85.7 percent.

• Pearson, 387 at 72.7 percent.

• Pierce, 552, 98.6 percent.

• Ritchie, 488 at 89.1 percent.

• Smith, 424 at 74.1 percent.

• Thompson, 258 at 70.1 percent.

• Walter, 412 at 70.1 percent.

Countywide, enrollment stands at 81.3 percent of capacity.

Contact Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

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sshrader · September 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm
That large of a middle school is not in the students best interests.
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