February 4, 2020
School board supports Taylor Middle renovation
Taylor Middle, which shares a 39-acre site with Brumfield Elementary, has more room for potential future expansion than Warrenton Middle, according to school officials.
No solution checks all the boxes. It’s like a Lego puzzle that has a couple of pieces missing.
— Assistant Superintendent Prashant Shrestha
Fauquier Middle Schools
• Built: 2004
• Students: 570
• Capacity: 657
• Campus: 34.5 acres
> Cedar Lee
• Built: 1973
• Students: 654
• Capacity: 789
• Campus: 33.3 acres
• Built: 1974
• Students: 468
• Capacity: 656
• Campus: 34.8 acres
• Built: 1951
• Students: 470
• Capacity: 547
• Campus: 39.1 acres, shared with Brumfield Elementary
• Built: 1934
• Students: 434
• Capacity: 545
• Campus: 14.8 acres, shared with county garage and maintenance facilities
Taylor Middle School in Warrenton would undergo renovation as part of a $55-million construction plan that Fauquier’s school board unanimously endorsed Monday night.
Attempting to reach consensus with the county supervisors, who control funding, the board seeks:
• $27.6 million to renovate Taylor, which opened in 1952 as Fauquier’s high school for black students. Taylor’s capacity would remain unchanged at 547 students. Warrenton Middle School would get repurposed, at undetermined cost, for offices, other educational programs and possible recreational use.
• $17.5 million to expand Cedar Lee Middle School in Bealeton, increasing its capacity by 300 students. That would make it large enough for 1,089 students in Grades 6-8.
• $9.9 million to add a wing for up to 300 more students at Auburn Middle School near New Baltimore. Opened in 2004, Auburn — the county’s newest middle school — then could accommodate up to 957 students. The school board also will consider a smaller addition if it would save money.
> Options at bottom of story
For a variety of reasons, crafting a middle school plan poses complex challenges. School officials this week again reviewed bussing patterns and potential future residential development in considering the options.
“No solution checks all the boxes,” Assistant Superintendent Prashant Shrestha told the board. “It’s like a Lego puzzle that has a couple of pieces missing.”
The latest plan would remove 545 middle school “seats” from Warrenton and effectively move them to Bealeton and the New Baltimore area.
Less than a year ago — after contentious deliberations — the school board and county supervisors adopted a plan that would renovate and expand Taylor or Warrenton at $30 million and expand Cedar Lee at $10 million.
> Resolution at bottom of story
But, the latter figures merely represented a guess, according to school officials. More analysis resulted in the 75-percent rise in the Cedar Lee project’s estimated cost.
After several years of debate, it remains uncertain whether the board of supervisors will support the latest school board plan.
The school board will seek a meeting with all five supervisors to discuss it.
Another option — maintaining Warrenton Middle with a $25.5-million renovation and repurposing Taylor — ranked as the school board’s second choice Monday night.
But, the board rejected two other options that would have expanded Cedar Lee and one of the Warrenton schools without an addition to Auburn.
Expanding Auburn and Cedar Lee first would allow renovation of a Warrenton school without the use of temporary trailer classrooms at an estimated cost of at least $1.2 million. Students would move out of the school chosen for renovation, with Auburn and Cedar Lee absorbing enrollment surges.
The school board prefers to renovate Taylor because:
• It has a 39-acre campus — versus 14.8 acres at Warrenton — making future expansion potentially more practical and less expensive.
Both sites present challenges. Warrenton Middle School and the county maintenance complex share a very tight tract of land, with homes and businesses surrounding them. Taylor and James G. Brumfield Elementary share a larger site, some of it in a 500-year floodplain, which the county deems unbuildable.
• Taylor’s shared parcel with Brumfield would make it possible to route much of the middle school’s traffic to Alwington Boulevard — between Home Depot and Walmart — where stoplights make vehicle flow safer.
Warrenton Middle has vehicle access only to Waterloo Street. Creating a second access — through the county maintenance complex behind the Warrenton firehouse — would be difficult and expensive, with the true costs unknown.
“Warrenton Middle seems like a wild card to me that may be more expensive” because of the road access, school board member Stephanie Litter-Reber (Lee District) said. “Taylor looks like a better option to me.”
Superintendent David Jeck again noted that an Auburn expansion would provide the lowest cost per seat for new construction.
Early in Monday night’s work session, school board Chairman Duke Bland (Marshall) again said: “The board of supervisors is not in business to tell us how to build our schools. They are our funding agent.”
But, everyone acknowledges that any solution requires the agreement of the two elected boards.
> Column: Maybe, just maybe, a solution for middle schools
CIP Choices Middle School (... by Fauquier Now on Scribd
Resolution Middle School Concept Plan 2019 by Fauquier Now on Scribd
Please, be polite. Avoid name-calling and profanity.
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