Plans are underway for the construction of a new middle school, and it’s possible Ashe County Schools could break ground on a new campus as early as 2016.
At the Ashe County Board of Education’s spring retreat and budget session on March 28, Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden informed the board that he had spoken with Ashe County Manager Sam Yearick about the need for the need for a new school and that he and Yearick had agreed to begin holding discussions after the county approves its budget for the 2014-15 year.
“He (Yearick) knows that’s a need for us,” Holden said. “We need to meet (with the county) to start coming up with a plan.”
The current plan calls for the new middle school to be constructed on the site of the current Ashe County Middle School in Warrensville. The school in Warrensville was constructed nearly 50 years ago and the cost of renovating the antiquated facility could potentially cost in excess of $10 million, nearly half the cost of building a new and improved, modern facility.
According to Holden, the cost for construction of a new middle school would cost around $26 million.
Preliminary blueprints for the school call for the construction of an E-shaped, two-story facility that would be built behind the current school.
Once the new school is built, the old middle school would be demolished with the exception of the swimming pool and gymnasium, which would become a part of the new school and could also be used for community and AAU events.
Board members were in agreement that the Warrensville site is the best location for the new school, but some questioned what the cost of adding water and sewer to the new campus would be given the fact that the water and sewer system at the current middle school it too old for the new school.
“My only concern is water and sewer,” Dr. Lee Beckworth said. “$26 million seems like a lot without water and sewer.”
Board member C.B. Jones also voiced his concern over the water and sewer system.
“How expensive would it be to get the campus assessed for water and sewer,” board member C.B. Jones asked.
The board agreed that it would be best to conduct a joint meeting with the Ashe County Board of Commissioners in the coming months, to discuss the need, plans for and cost of building a new middle school.
Last month, the board requested $4.8 million from the county for its budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, the majority of which is designated for new technology, improvements at existing schools and offsetting less money from the state.
Money to build a new school has yet to be asked for and be allocated.
The plans for the new middle school are a work in progress and ACS, the board and the county will continue to work on finalizing plans for a new campus in the coming months.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.