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Big changes are on the way for the Roanoke elementary school, which is home to 360 students.
Illustration courtesy Roanoke City Public Schools
Virginia Heights Elementary School will get new classrooms and a new library with more light.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Once Virginia Heights Elementary School’s renovation and expansion is complete, there will be more classrooms, a new multipurpose room, a new art room and a different library with more light.
The public got a look at the plans for the school during a community meeting Wednesday. Work on the $2.5 million project is expected to begin this summer and be finished by the start of classes in the fall.
The school, built in 1922 and home to 360 students, has had several expansions over the years, but it is overcrowded and parts of it need upgrades.
Principal Linda Butts said space is at a premium and teachers try to use every last corner. That has meant using the elevator lobby and hallways for instruction, and even transforming the school’s stage into a makeshift computer lab.
“We make very good use of space,” she said, adding that she’s excited about the expansion.
The project will involve renovating parts of the building, and changing and adding to others. The space that now houses the library will be converted into three classrooms and a designated art room.
The space where the multipurpose room is now will be converted into a library with much more natural light than the current library space has. A new multipurpose room will then be built and two new classrooms will be be added.
“One of the core issues we’re facing is overcrowding,” Deputy Superintendent Curt Baker said. “We have a great shortage of space.”
He said if more space is needed in the future, additional classroom space could be added above the two new classrooms.
The renovation and expansion project is part of the system’s five-year capital plan, and the Roanoke School Board voted on the capital appropriation for the project in December. It will also help achieve one of the goals of the school system’s equity policy: reducing modular units.
Currently the school has one unit, but it won’t be needed after the renovation and expansion.
About two dozen people attended Wednesday’s meeting and there were only a couple of questions and comments, including one about how getting rid of modular units is a positive step and another about when the project would be completed.
Officials said it’s important to them to accomplish the work during the summer and they believe they can do that.
Baker said as soon as teachers wave goodbye to children for the summer, the plan is to have an “an army of workmen” ready to move in .
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