New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 21, 2018

Editorial: Now is the time for Charles City to start planning for a new school

By Andre Jones | February 7, 2018 12:37 am

It’s time for both Charles City’s board of supervisors and school board to plan for a new school.

I know, I know. Some of you are wondering why I am bringing this up? I’m not saying Charles City needs a new school right now. I’m just saying that maybe next year, a long-term plan should be in place for the construction of a new facility.

As I sat in Charles City School Board’s meeting Tuesday night, hearing about the repairs that need to be addressed made me think. If you look back on it, both Charles City Elementary School and Charles City High School are 26 years old. I was in seventh grade when the transition into those the schools were made.

When I first entered the doors of what was known as Charles City Middle School, I thought it was unique. I had my own locker (I was sharing one at the old middle school) and my own gym locker. Showers in the gymnasium, a huge cafeteria, and an auditorium with cushioned seats. The transition made the atmosphere more enjoyable for me.

But today, that school is beginning to shut down. Heating and ventilation units are beginning to fail, the high school track is slowly peeling away, and the auditorium is hardly used for assemblies anymore. If you walked into the high school gym, they are using the same sound system for games they had in 1993; four speakers pointed in four different directions sitting above center court. Lockers in the locker room are beginning to rust, and there are only a handful of urinals in the restrooms. The schools’ construction also prevents a lot of technological upgrades due to wiring. And if you ever tried to use a cell phone in that facility, you would know how difficult that is.

With so may items in disarray, I honestly believe planning for a new school now will be a good move for the future. The debate on how many students that school will hold is still a key subject (as the student enrollment continues to drop), but the possibility of having one building to house 750-1,000 pupils may be feasible. Charles City is becoming an aging community, but the school system still has to provide the services for a viable education. A lot of money is being spent to replace and repair items just for the school’s day-to-day operations.

So as the future budgets are being tasked for the future, I believe both boards will have to look at a new school building. With the Charles City Library expected to begin payments in 2019, I say the school should begin construction around 2028. That is approximately 10 years from now and it will provide enough time to see what becomes of the new power plant and its financial contributions to the county. It also will help school board leaders and county supervisors by providing a consistent number and stern data for the construction. If the school begins construction in 2028, it should open in 2030. That means the facilities they are currently in will be 37 years old if they move into a new school.

Charles City schools are continuing to trend upwards education-wise, Charles City County is beginning to open doors for businesses to come in. It’s time that the two boards work cohesively in the long term as the best way to keep the county growing is both providing a quality education (through the schools) and providing opportunities to have a career in the county.