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February 13, 2020

Supervisors agree: Expand Taylor Middle School

File Photo
Taylor opened during segregation in 1952 as Fauquier’s high school for black students. Its alumni have advocated for its renovation and continued use as the county seat’s middle school. The supervisors Thursday agreed with the school board to follow that plan.
One of the questions that’s been hanging out there is which central school to renovate. I think it should be Taylor Middle School.
— Supervisor Chris Granger
Fauquier’s Middle Schools
> Auburn
• Built: 2004
• Students: 570
• Capacity: 657
• Campus: 34.5 acres

> Cedar Lee
• Built: 1973
• Students: 654
• Capacity: 789
• Campus: 33.3 acres

> Marshall
• Built: 1974
• Students: 468
• Capacity: 656
• Campus: 34.8 acres

> Taylor
• Built: 1951
• Students: 470
• Capacity: 547
• Campus: 39.1 acres, shared with Brumfield Elementary

> Warrenton
• Built: 1934
• Students: 434
• Capacity: 545
• Campus: 14.8 acres, shared with county garage and maintenance facilities
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
The apparent “Kumbaya” moment in the long-running debate about Fauquier middle school renovations finally came just after 3:30 Thursday afternoon.

Following the lead of Chris Granger (Center District) and Chris Butler (Lee), the five-member board of supervisors agreed in principal to a plan, estimated to cost $58.7 million, that would:

• Expand Cedar Lee Middle in Bealeton for 300 more students, bringing its capacity to 1,089.

• Renovate and expand the Taylor Middle in Warrenton to accommodate 650 to 800 students. Taylor today has a capacity of 547.

The school board and supervisors still need to formally adopt the plan.

But, the agreement apparently ends several years of sometimes angry debate between the two elected boards.

Both boards last year agreed to expand Cedar Lee and to renovate one of the two Warrenton schools. That plan used $40 million as an estimated “placeholder” cost.

But, the school board early this year wanted to amend that agreement, with a $10-million addition to Auburn Middle School as well.

“One of the questions that’s been hanging out there is which central school to renovate,” Mr. Granger said to start Thursday’s work session on the topic. “I think it should be Taylor Middle School.

“Warrenton (Middle) always came up as the easy option (for renovation), because it was a little bit less expensive.”

He also had previously expressed preference for renovating Warrenton because of its architecture and “walkability.”

But, Mr. Granger said the history of Taylor — built in the early 1950s as Fauquier’s high school for black students — justifies the extra cost to continue its use for instruction.

“I’ve searched high and low in the commonwealth and haven’t found a similar example” of a formerly segregated school for African-Americans undergoing major renovation for continued use, he said.

The decision means Warrenton Middle School on Waterloo Street probably will get repurposed for offices, Head Start and possibly the alternative school, housed in an older building near Midland.

School board Chairman “Duke” Bland (Marshall) on Thursday agreed with the supervisors. Two other school board members, Susan Pauling (Center) and Stephanie Litter-Reber (Lee), met Wednesday night with Mr. Butler and Mr. Granger and concurred.

Fauquier will go from five middle schools to four.

The school board last week unanimously endorsed Taylor’s renovation, but it also wanted to first expand Auburn.

While open to a potential expansion of Auburn — the county’s newest middle school, which opened in 2004 — the supervisors want the two other projects to take precedence.

Cedar Lee’s expansion, estimated to cost $17.9 million, could begin next summer. Its completion would allow the school system to move a couple hundred students out of Taylor for its renovation. Others would move temporarily to other schools during that project.

The cost for Taylor’s renovation and expansion remains uncertain, but it could run about $40.7 million.

The county would pay 10 percent of the costs with cash and would issue bonds to pay the 90-percent balance over 20 years.

At peak, the debt service would cost an estimated $4.5 million a year. At today’s rate and values, that would represent a 4-1/2-percent real estate tax increase.

But, again, much remains to be determined.

School officials, however, left the meeting relieved.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.
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Jaxon3630 · March 26, 2020 at 7:00 am
The middle schools are closed due to the recent condition of the corona virus. I suggest to the student to read the full info here of corona virus because it is not safe for your health. The easy ways students can go green with the online class which you can attend and stay at the home because it is for your safety. The schools will open when the condition will Seattle down in upcoming days.
Nathan Holt · March 2, 2020 at 9:21 am
It is very good that they invest money in school. Still, it is very important that education is supported as much as possible. Students should be focused only on the study and educational resources and not think about how the school will provide them with everything necessary. I'm glad to read such news.
anjasalt · February 18, 2020 at 2:49 am
I think all aspects of education should develop on a daily basis. Hope they will make appropriate decisions. And, if you're a student attending this school — you should definitely try different services on Regardless of the officials' plans, you have to keep up with your studies.
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