School Board urges decision on facilities

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

By Frederic Lee 

Staff writer

The Isle of Wight County School Board urged the Board of Supervisors to make a decision whether or not they want to renovate or replace Hardy Elementary School.   

“We’ve presented a plan. We want to move forward with this plan. If they don’t like our plan and don’t want to do it, we’re willing to work with them, and if the best solution is a new school, well then we want to move forward with that,” said School Board Chairperson Vicky Hulick at the April 11 School Board meeting. 

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“We are open to anything the Board of Supervisors wants to do, as long as we’re moving forward and doing it now,” said Hulick. “We don’t want to wait four or five years. We want to start this process as soon as possible, within the next … six months, (with) really moving forward and getting this done.” {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Schools Superintendent Jim Thornton also expressed frustration with the supervisors’ lack of movement one way or the other, but emphasized that a recent study of Hardy showed that it was in good structural standing to be renovated. 

“If the building’s structurally sound and in good condition, you can renovate the building and bring it into the modern age,” said Thornton. “I think what’s really confusing some in the community is Hardy’s additions,” he said, adding that the past additions didn’t affect the infrastructure of the school. 

“All of the ceilings, all of the lighting, all of the restroom facilities’ fixtures, flooring, all of that is being gutted,” said Thornton. 

During the School Board meeting, Carrsville District representative Jackie Carr said that she’d heard one of the Board of Supervisors — Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice — wanted to commission an independent study to determine whether or not renovating Hardy or building a new school was cheaper. In response, Thornton confirmed that and said, “We’re here if they want to do that and feel like they have to do that to make some decision… It will probably cost another $10,000 or so, maybe $10,000 to $20,000, but then you have answers,” said Thornton, adding “and then let’s move forward.” 

The superintendent maintained that due to fiscal limitations, renovation is preferred. 

A new structural report by structural engineering firm Speight, Marshall and Francis, P.C. found Hardy in “good” standing, based on a March 19 site visit. The report cost $2,000, according to Thornton.

The report states that “based on our site visit we can best describe the building condition as GOOD with some areas of concern. Many of the issues are common with a building of this age. These can be repaired and with proper maintenance, the building still has many years of life left … At this time, we believe this building, once the previously mentioned repairs are completed and if properly maintained should have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.”

Based on the $3,000 drainage report, Thornton said that overall, the drainage pipes starting at the base of the Hardy building leading outward are also in good condition. “We’re still waiting for the results of the asbestos report,” he said. 

“Has this information been sent to the Board of Supervisors?” asked Carr, and Thornton said that the structural report had been, and that he planned to have additional reports sent once they’re completed, including an asbestos report. 

Hulick said that if the Board of Supervisors wants to build a new school and won’t negotiate on the matter, she didn’t see the point of spending money on studies pertaining to the Hardy building’s soundness that could be used elsewhere. 

Thornton said that questions were raised about the possibility of building a “new Hardy” at a recent NAACP meeting about the condition of the school. 

“I explained that we did look into building a new Hardy …and also explained the whole CIP is not about just Hardy. It’s about the growth at the northern end of the county and how do we solve that, so that our plan addressed that,” said Thornton, adding that other multimillion dollar items, such as a new county bus garage and the renovation of Westside Elementary School, must also be taken into consideration. 

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors is reviewing the schools’ request as part of its annual budget process.  {/mprestriction}