IW-owned land considered for Westside

Published 3:19 am Wednesday, December 11, 2019

By Frederic Lee 

Staff writer

While Isle of Wight County officials weigh options to upgrade Hardy and Westside Elementary schools — namely whether to renovate or replace them — the locations where they may eventually sit is also a decision point. 

Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice said that there is a roughly 19-acre tract next to Smithfield High School where a future Westside Elementary School could possibly go, since it’s land that’s already owned by the school division. 

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The tract is larger than the current tract where Westside Elementary sits on West Main Street by several acres, said Grice. He added that since the school division already owns the land, it would save a good deal of money if officials decide to replace Westside Elementary elsewhere instead of renovating it where it is. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Hardy and Westside Elementary are the two oldest schools in the county, and there is apparent growth in the northern end of Isle of Wight County that a new, larger Hardy Elementary could help to address.

While the Board of Supervisors and the School Board are leaning toward replacing Hardy Elementary School instead of remodeling it, it doesn’t appear that changing its location is on the table. 

Right now, county officials are looking at whether additional land acquisition would be necessary in order to rebuild Hardy Elementary School at its current site on Old Stage Highway, according to County Administrator Randy Keaton. 

Earlier this year, the Hampton Roads Sanitation District commissioners approved plans to run a sewer line from Surry to Smithfield along Business Route 10, directly past Hardy Elementary School. The school currently has a failing septic system. 

If Hardy Elementary is replaced, its capacity could increase from about 650 to around 850 students, a change that could  offset capacity restraints at Carrollton Elementary School, according to school division officials.  

The county’s school enrollment numbers at Carrollton Elementary are reaching capacity, according to an enrollment report from Isle of Wight County Schools’ Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Goetz earlier this year. That is compounded by new housing developments that are either under construction, or have been approved, in Isle of Wight’s northern end. 

Keaton confirmed that, in terms of Westside Elementary, the Board of Supervisors hasn’t yet arrived at a consensus on whether it would be possible to rebuild the school at its current location, since the board hasn’t received the report on renovating versus replacing the school. 

That report is expected at the Dec. 12 Board of Supervisors work session, according to Keaton. 

An evaluation of the cost differences between renovating and replacing Hardy Elementary School was performed by Alpha Corporation earlier this year. Brian Camden with Alpha Corporation. pinned renovation costs at $22.9 million versus $31.8 million to replace the school.  {/mprestriction}