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New Tech funds OK'd

Friday, March 8, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board on Thursday night awarded a contract in the amount of $77,830 to RRMM Architects for design and construction administration for the Warrior Tech School at Magna Vista High School.

The 14,200-square-foot project, referred to as the first phase, would involve converting the school’s media center and a couple of adjacent classrooms into a New Tech school at an estimated cost of about $553,000, according to a presentation by Ben Motley and Kevin Deck of RRMM Architects.

It is a school within a school concept.

The approximately $553,000 includes about $453,000 for construction and associated design and contingency; and about $100,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment, Motley said.

The school division previously requested that about $300,000 in carryover funds be used for the project, and that request is pending before the Henry County Board of Supervisors. The remaining approximately $253,000 (including the $77,830 contract approved by the school board Thursday night) would come from this year’s school division budget, according to Keith Scott, the school division’s supervisor of facilities/maintenance.

According to the University of Indianapolis Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning website: “At a New Tech (school), you will see students working in groups, deeply engaged in projects that encompass multiple areas of learning. Large open spaces provide a dynamic environment for collaborative education. Classroom teachers act as leaders and guides who interact with their students for academic exploration, while ultimately helping students become directors of their own learning.”

Designs that Deck showed to the school board Thursday night indicated the first phase would include two labs (each serving 50 students), areas where smaller groups could meet, a reception area, commons space, a director’s office, storage and work areas. It would have contemporary finishes and bright colors to help distinguish it from other parts of the school. It would have lots of openness and glass.

“It looks beautiful,” said Terri Flanagan, who represents the Horsepasture District on the school board.

School division officials have said what is now being called Warrior Tech School would start in the fall of 2013 with 100 rising ninth-graders at Magna Vista. It would be the first New Tech school in Virginia.

If things go well, Motley estimated, construction would start in the summer and the first-phase project would be completed mid-September.

Phase two of the project calls for two additional labs. That would involve part of the space in the new Warrior Tech School and at least one adjoining classroom, according to Deck and Scott. No timetable or cost estimates were presented for phase two. Scott said he hopes phase two could be done the year after phase one.

Scott will be meeting with Magna Vista officials to discuss where the media center should be relocated, he said. He estimated the media center needs to be one-third to one-half as large as it is now. Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said public school media centers don’t need to be as large today as in years past because of changing technology and because collections don’t need to be as large.

In other business, Lance Wyatt, regional president of Cenergistic, announced that all 14 K-12 schools in the Henry County school division have been awarded Energy Star certifications — something that only 5 to 10 percent of schools in the United States have accomplished. Plaques were presented to school principals or other representatives.

In a related matter, Ken Adkins, energy specialist with the school division, gave a presentation showing that the school division’s energy conservation program had net savings of $716,077.83 from February 2010 through January of this year.

Adkins said the energy conservation program has accomplished savings in three years that had been projected to take four years.

In other business, the school board:

• Voted to continue health insurance coverage with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield for the period July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, with the school system continuing to pay 100 percent of the single subscriber premium for active employees.

The premium increase of 10.0 percent (a fraction of which is because of additional taxes under the health care reform legislation) is projected to cost the school system an extra $359.344 for the regular operating budget, according to a board document and Dawn Lawson, the school division’s chief financial officer.

“Cafeteria and federal/state grant employees are covered under their respective budgets. Participating retirees pay 100% of the premium,” a board document states.

• Awarded a contract in the amount of $82,100 to RRMM Architects of Roanoke to provide design services for the first phase of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), ceiling and lighting upgrades at Bassett High School.

• Approved the purchase of $28,196.10 of equipment from Culinary Depot of Monsey, N.Y. , to replace kitchen equipment for Drewry Mason and Carver elementary schools.

• Approved the purchase of a walk-in cooler/freezer at a cost of $28,211.70 from So Lo Co. Inc. in Martinsville. It will replace the old walk-in freezer at Mt. Olivet Elementary.

• Heard a mid-year update the Read 180 literacy intervention program. The long-range goal is that all students in the program will be reading on grade level. The short-term goal is to increase each student’s Lexile score 140 points by spring of 2013. Forty-eight percent of the participants already have achieved the annual goal, according to a board document.

The meeting was at Laurel Park Middle School. Rudy Law, Blackberry District school board member, did not attend.


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