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Architects put forth ideas for HCHS as choice nears

SoVaNow.com / May 23, 2019
The choice of an architect to build a new Halifax County High School remains on track to come up for discussion by the Halifax County School Board in June, after three firms made pitches this week to a facilities review committee that will advise trustees on the best choice to carry out the project.

On Tuesday, members of the School Board’s Facilities Review Committee heard presentations from three architectural firms on their ideas for a new HCHS. While no actual designs were put forward, representatives from the three companies discussed their resumes, prior school projects and ideas for meeting the School Board’s objective of designing a new high school around a flexible curriculum and career focus.

“They [the firms] all did a great job,” said interim Supervisor of Secondary Instruction Scott Worner, who sits on the 14-member committee.

“One of the things that has to be really understood,” Worner added, “is that when you sit down and listen to the architecture and engineering firms, you’re looking for the architects that have the best qualifications to meet the specifications set forth by the district, if, and its a big if, we can proceed.”

After initially entertaining proposals from seven architects for a design/build solution for HCHS — in which the architect picks a general contractor to work with — the facilities committee narrowed the list of candidates to three: Virginia-based architects Grimm and Parker, RRMM, and Moseley Architects.

The latter firm conducted a prior study for the School Board on how best to modernize HCHS, with trustees endorsing Moseley’s call to build an all-new facility at an estimated cost of $99 million. Despite that existing relationship, however, Worner said the selection of a firm to build the high school remains up in the air.

Facilities committee members “went into this being very open minded, without favorites,” he said.

Firms were queried about their experience with high school construction and how they envision a new building serving the educational programming needs at Halifax County High School. School trustees and administrators say a new facility is essential to support their goal of reinventing the high school educational experience, replacing a static learning environment with one that imparts real-world skills to students.

The committee also asked about the architects’ proposed timelines for developing a conceptual plan and design, as well as the long term maintenance costs for the new facility. They were also asked to describe how they propose to incorporate the new curriculum offerings.

The presentations lasted six hours on Tuesday, and members of the committee — mostly school faculty, staff and trustees, with a handful of community representatives added in the mix— will review the information before making a recommendation to the School Board on which firm to hire. That recommendation is expected to come in time for the School Board’s regular meeting in June, at which time trustees could select the winning firm.

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg said Wednesday that he and the Central Office administration are continuing to work on another task — putting together a financial plan that will lessen the need to raise property taxes to pay for a new HCHS facility. He also said the School Board is open to input from the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, which has hired its own architect to review whether the county should build a new school or renovate the existing one.

“The Board of Supervisors has every right to have oversight” over the high school decision, said Lineburg, adding that “this is the one time as a community, we can hope to come to a consensus.” However, he added, “the problems at the high school are not going away, they’re only going to get worse.

“What does renovation look like, with a building that not many people have been happy with from the start?” Lineburg said.

“The high school has to be fixed.”



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Comments

The BOS needs to tell the School Board no money for this!!!! I can see 10-20 million to update it AFTER the courthouse is paid for! I am sick of the school board trying to do what the judges did to us about the court house. We did not need that new court house and we don't need a new high school!

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HEY NEGATIVE NANCY


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