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Montgomery County schools set September opening
The delay is intended to allow more time for the setup and relocation of several schools in the county.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Bobby Barrette (left) and Bobby Cox of Branch Construction Contractors work Tuesday on the new Blacksburg High School. The facility is scheduled to be completed in August, allowing the school to open Sept. 4. That is the latest Montgomery County schools have opened in years.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
The new Auburn High School in Riner is to be finished in July and furnished in August. Construction of the school was already set when Blacksburg High’s gym roof collapsed.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
CHRISTIANSBURG — Montgomery County schools will start after Labor Day this fall for the first time in years.
School board members voted 5-2 Tuesday for a Sept. 4 start date for classes for the 2013- 14 academic year. The later-than-usual start allows extra time for the completion and setup of the new Auburn and Blacksburg high schools so that they can open in the fall. Another factor is the move of Blacksburg Middle School, which has been housed in the old Christiansburg High School since 2010, back to Blacksburg.
"I feel everything will be a go to move Blacksburg Middle School back to Blacksburg, and that's the domino that starts the process," schools Superintendent Brenda Blackburn told school board members.
School board members Penny Franklin and Drema Foster voted against the later start but did not comment on why they did so. Schools spokeswoman Brenda Drake said it has been years since the schools started this late.
For most of the past 15 years, Montgomery County started school on the third Wednesday in August. The latest recent start was in 2010, when classes began on Aug. 30 to accommodate the shift of Blacksburg Middle School students to Christiansburg and Blacksburg High School students to Blacksburg Middle School.
That shuffle was prompted by the collapse of Blacksburg High School's gym roof in February 2010 and the subsequent shuttering of the school. That prompted a still-controversial board of supervisors vote to build a new Blacksburg High School as well as the already-planned new Auburn High School. The supervisors allocated $124 million for constructing the two schools, demolishing the old Auburn Middle School, and renovating the old Auburn High School into a new middle school. Paying for the construction prompted a 12-cent increase in the county's real estate tax rate earlier this year, moving it from 75 to 87 cents per $100 of assessed value. It was the largest jump in decades.
The transformation of the old Auburn High into a new Auburn Middle School is to take place in the year after the new high school opens. Furnishings will have to be put in storage and work will have to begin as soon as the current school year ends, schools Assistant Superintendent Walt Shannon said Tuesday.
"It cannot wait until Auburn High School moves into the new high school. ... It will be a very busy summer," Shannon said.
Construction of the new Auburn High School is to be substantially finished by July 22, and equipment and furniture is to be set up in the new facility by Aug. 23, Shannon said.
The academic wing of the new Blacksburg High School is to be substantially complete by July 25, with the rest of the facility finished by Aug. 14, Shannon added.
Another school calendar proposal that has stirred discussion, a shift to nine-week grading periods in the middle and high schools, is still being reviewed, Blackburn said. Elementary schools already use the nine-week periods, and teachers at other schools are presently being surveyed about the possible change, she said.
"Are parents involved at all?" school board member Phyllis Albritton asked.
School board Chairman Wendell Jones shook his head no.
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