New Kent school board evaluating reopening dates, reviews proposed CIP for FY2021-22
New Kent’s School Board is continuing to evaluate reopening school buildings on a grade-by-grade basis. But with the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, a goal of having all students back inside buildings by the new year may have to wait.
School board members conversed during Monday night’s work session on the topic. Kindergartners and first graders have already returned to in-person learning. However, the rise in cases has delayed the return of the final grades for elementary school pupils. The new goal is to bring in second and third graders beginning Dec. 14. Grades four and five will have an opportunity to return to classrooms beginning Jan. 11, 2021. Grades six through twelve are currently being discussed at this time.
In another matter, New Kent Superintendent of Schools Brian Nichols proposed a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) recommendation of $1,1181,506 for FY21-22.
Items topping the list of capital needs for the school system include the purchase of six school buses ($698,700), district wide paving ($120,000), digital conversion ($100,000), HVAC replacement at New Kent Middle School ($100,000), and HVAC unit replacement inside George Watkins Elementary School’s gym ($62,356).
In one final topic on the night, discussion on the progress of the elementary school and the possible of a new middle school by the end of the decade came to the forefront.
After New Kent’s Board of Supervisors approved the borrowing of $22 million towards the $35 million elementary school project, New Kent’s School Board is taking steps for the public to name the school. A virtual public information session will take place on Jan. 20, 2021, with school leaders targeting Mar. 1, 2021 as a target date to vote on the name. The school will also begin working on a redistricting plan at a later date as the one-year delay will allow more time to evaluate the area.
In regards to a new middle school, it was first reported at New Kent Board of Supervisors’ retreat on Nov. 6 the possible need for the new facility. New Kent continues to be one of the fastest growing counties in Virginia.
Nichols presented a rough figure to school board members about the cost of middle schools, comparing them to present day and future inflation. According to the superintendent, a new middle school in the county would cost approximately $53 million in today’s economy. With the expectation that the need of a new middle school will be needed by the end of the decade, that number would increase to $71 million when inflation is factored in.