Hardy Elementary School closed to tech classes

Published 7:36 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Renovation would add facilities and modernize generally

Frederic Lee

Staff writer

Limited resources at Hardy Elementary School mean that technology classes cannot be taught there, unlike other elementary schools in Isle of Wight County.

The Isle of Wight School Board has targeted Hardy for renovation and expansion, and those plans are currently in the county’s draft capital improvement plan.  

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The renovation and expansion has been met with some resistance, mostly due to the cost, which is estimated at $13.4 million.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

However, school administrators and teachers point to numerous issues with the aging building, such as outdated technology, unsafe furnishings in the gymnasium, mismatched tiles and a general lack of space as the school population continues to grow. 

This year, rising fourth graders at Hardy stayed at the school rather than moving to Westside in order to relieve the need for trailers there, as that school was reaching capacity, according to enrollment data released last fall.

During a recent walk through, Hardy Elementary School Principal Shante C. Denson said that the renovation/expansion would allow S.T.E.M. — science, technology, engineering and math — resource classes to be taught at Hardy. 

Other elementary schools in the county such as Carrollton Elementary feature a S.T.E.M. resource class, according to Denson and Isle of Wight County schools Superintendent Jim Thornton. 

Thornton added that a S.T.E.M. class at Hardy would create a more equitable and accessible school system for all students since, among county schools, Hardy has the highest rate of students from families living in poverty.

Included in the renovations are plans to convert Hardy’s current gymnasium into a S.T.E.M./Maker Space-designated area. At the high school level, the Maker Space features a 3-D printer and other design technology, and the same use would apply to a Maker Space at an elementary level. 

The renovations also include adding five new classrooms, a new, larger gymnasium to better accommodate students and a larger cafeteria. 

In addition to its intended purpose, the cafeteria at Hardy is used for student performances and showcases, and Denson said that often times grade-level awards ceremonies have to be broken up into segments in order to accommodate students, parents and guests. The cafeteria is also used as storage space, as are some of the building’s halls. 

There are also numerous small items to be addressed. Outdated doorknobs in the gymnasium, for example, pose a safety threat for fast-moving children, according to Hardy Gym Teacher Michael Cooke.   

The planned renovations and expansion is currently making its way through the county’s capital improvement plan process, where the final decision rests with the Board of Supervisors.   {/mprestriction}