School facility, capacity assessment coming to an end
The long process of school officials assessing Hanover schools’ student capacities and structural condition is at last nearing its end.
“The components of the assessment are primarily done,” said David Myers, assistant superintendent of business and operations.
Tuesday night, Myers provided the Hanover School Board with a complete summary of student capacity school wide.
Recent documents show that Atlee and Lee-Davis high schools are both at 96 percent capacity in 2013-2014. Patrick Henry is close behind at 90 percent while Hanover High School’s capacity is much lower at 74 percent.
“The county agrees that Atlee High School is a concern,” he said.
As for middle schools, Stonewall Jackson is at 98 percent while Liberty is 94 percent full. The highest capacity is at the elementary level and division-wide is at Washington Henry with103 percent.
“The capacity calculations I feel good about,” Myers said.
By looking at the report’s numbers, he said that there is not a current need for new schools or seats. Previously Myers said that the division’s policy states that a building is considered to be at full capacity if it reaches 120 percent for three consecutive years.
The study first started near the beginning of the school year and has been completed in chunks. It looked at student enrollment, school districts and how many students will continue onto the next grade level. This was the first time this type of assessment has been done since 2007.
When the school division first released data, Cold Harbor District Representative Norman Sulser recommended the board look at options for fixing the issues at various schools.
In previous interviews, Sulser even suggested some students be moved from both Lee-Davis and Patrick Henry high schools to the much newer building, Hanover High School.
Sulser recently told the Herald-Progress that at the moment, Patrick Henry was a big concern of his even though he said students and teachers have not expressed any concern to the board.
It is possible that the problem may worsen as time goes on. According to the data, there will be about a 1.5 percent increase in growth over 10 years, which would be evenly distributed among all schools.
The laundry list of maintenance items that need to be addressed will be included in the capital improvement plan.
“I think we can see that we’ve got some things we need to do,” said Hank Lowry Jr., Ashland District representative.
He said that the board will need to figure out solutions to some of the numbers in the report.
The School Board decided at its Jan. 14 meeting that they will discuss all items related to the school-wide assessment after their budget workshop sessions. Superintendent Dr. Jamelle Wilson will present the budget Jan. 21 and the board will have their first work session and public hearing Jan. 28.
It is likely the board could battle out the capacity issue in early February, where they will go into full detail on the report’s significance once they have dealt with the budget first.
“My intuition tells me there’s going to be a lot of talking about it around this table,” said Glenn T. Millican Jr., Mechanicsville District representative and vice chairman.