At a school board meeting Monday night, Sept. 9, board members unanimously approved a resolution to purchase an acre and a half of land adjacent to Cedar Lee Middle School for $312,500.
June H. Grimes is listed as the seller of the property at 11132 Marsh Road in Bealeton.
David Graham, executive director for administration and planning, said that the purchase would make it possible to expand the footprint of Cedar Lee without having to alter the back of the school. Tennis courts and ball fields are located there and would be expensive to relocate, Graham said.
He said another benefit of acquiring the land at the front of the school is the opportunity to expand the bus loop, which he said is cramped and unsafe. He added that currently there is no place for parents to park to quickly pick up or drop off their children. “If we did nothing else but fix the bus loop, that would be worth it,” he said.
There is currently a house on the property slated for purchase. Graham said he could not say whether or not the school division would make use of that building.
A $10 million expansion of Cedar Lee Middle School was agreed to at an April 9 school board meeting, as the first step in a multi-phase middle school reconfiguration that will tally $40 million and take four to five years to complete. The cost estimates are based on an analysis from six months ago, so the eventual price tags will probably be higher, said Graham.
Expansion of Cedar Lee Middle School is needed to accommodate another 250 or more students, said Graham, most of whom will be rezoned from elsewhere in the county. The project’s conceptual plan outlined the expected sequence of events: property adjacent to Cedar Lee will be purchased; there will be a geotechnical study; a plan will be devised that will include 10 to 12 classrooms, a second gym and possibly an expanded kitchen and office areas.
School Superintendent David Jeck said that the school board will address a request for proposals for the Cedar Lee construction at its Sept. 23 work session.
Plans outlined in April stated that the RFP will remain in circulation for a month; design will take 9 to 12 months, and construction, 18 to 24 months.
Looking at the county-wide middle school picture, the steps in the project will include:
1. Cedar Lee Middle School expansion by approximately 250 seats.
2. A Warrenton-located middle school renovation and potential expansion, with the repurposing of either Warrenton Middle or Taylor Middle, at an estimated cost of $30 million. (Again, by the time construction begins, the cost will probably be higher.)
3. Consolidation of some school division or community services at the repurposed facility.
The school board has long debated how to accommodate its middle school students -- currently numbering more than 2,500 county-wide -- given the advanced age of Warrenton and Taylor middle schools in Warrenton.
School board member Brian Gorg (Center District) said Monday night that the most common questions he fields are about the middle school project. He suggested that the board provide an update to the public soon. “This is a good first step,” he said, referring to the land purchase. “It’s pretty important to our moving forward with this.”
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