Next Steps: What’s the plan for Prince Edward Elementary?

Published 2:31 am Tuesday, October 10, 2023

On Thursday, Aug. 30, Prince Edward supervisors voted to move forward with the $43.3 million renovation of Prince Edward Elementary. Now, more than a month later, where does the project stand? The project, according to Prince Edward Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson, is currently in the hands of the school district’s attorneys. 

“Our next part is to (work) with our attorney to get a contract in place with Mosley Architects to continue the work,” Johnson told the school board during their Wednesday, Oct. 4 meeting. “I have been in contact with (the firm) and they are beginning to work on a contract for us so we can continue the work on design for the elementary school.” 

Johnson said she expects to get the contract in hand later this week to give to Moseley, whose K-12 group, which Stephen Halsey runs, has been working on designs since that Aug. 30 vote. Back in August, Halsey estimated it would take about two months to finish those design drawings for the project. So that should be finished either by the end of October or sometime in November, if the estimate holds. 

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The drawings are based on Option 3, chosen by the board of supervisors in their Aug. 30 meeting. That option involves demolishing the two oldest buildings at the elementary school. In their place will be new construction connecting the remaining buildings, making it much easier to travel between classrooms. It also involves more seating options, bigger classrooms in some cases and more options for hands-on learning. The front entrance would also be relocated, getting traffic off Eagle Drive and fixing the general traffic situation during drop-off and pick-up times. 

One more thing to do 

But finishing the design is just one step in the process. There’s another piece the school district has to do. Part of the reason Prince Edward could afford the $43.3 million price tag is the idea the state would pay part of it. 

The Commonwealth has a series of capital improvement grants that cities and counties can apply for to pay for school renovations. Applications are currently being accepted for the latest round of those and Prince Edward will apply. If they get approved, the county would get 20% of the total or $8.7 million paid for through this grant. That would leave Prince Edward with just under $35 million to pay. According to state officials, the grant opened for applications on Friday, Sept. 29. Applications have to be turned in by the end of November to be considered. Johnson said the school district is working on the material. 

“We have already started working on it,” Johnson told the board. “I have alerted the county administrator as well as Moseley that it is open and we have started.” 

The school administration is also looking into another way of potentially lowering the renovation costs. Johnson said the district staff is looking to see if they can afford to rebuild the elementary school’s playground out of other state grants or the existing budget, rather than asking the county to pay for it. 

“That will help with funding the new school, if we can replace some things with some of our funds,” Johnson told the board. 

It wouldn’t be a cheap project, however. Rebuilding the playground alone would be about $400,000, as the district needs to make some changes around it. That includes providing some outdoor seating, to be used for an outdoor classroom. 

A Prince Edward Elementary timeframe 

Once the drawings are done, then Moseley officials will spend the next five to six months to get through a site plan review with Prince Edward County and the Virginia Department of Transportation. So in roughly either April or May of 2024, they should have a plan ready to put out to bid for contractors.

Then two months later, around July 2024, the county should be ready to pick a winning bid and award the contract. That means currently, construction should be starting right as students return to class in August 2024.