School gyms explored

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

During a January 2018 meeting of the Charlotte County School Board, a motion passed for Director of Facilities and Operations Larry Roller to further investigate and survey Bacon and Phenix Elementary schools to evaluate the landscape and see where a stand-alone gymnasium facility would fit on each property.

The discussion came during a recent meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, when Superintendent of Charlotte County Public Schools Dr. Nancy Leonard announced House Bill 357 will soon require all public school students K-5 to engage in at least 100 minutes of physical activity a week.

According to a summary of the bill as introduced, HB 357 “requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year for students in grades kindergarten through five.”

The requirement will become effective during the 2018-19 school year.

With the new requirement in mind, Leonard noted Bacon and Phenix do not have indoor gym facilities.

“So, in inclement weather they may go to a classroom or to a mobile unit, and they may play quiet games, board games, seated games, etc. That would not meet the physical activity requirement,” Leonard said.

She said part of the discussions have revolved around what to do for Bacon and Phenix since the requirement would become effective next school year.

“That is a challenge before our school board,” Leonard said.

Roller said he recently visited the gym located at Chase City Elementary School to tour the stand-alone gym facilities, a 60-by-100-foot metal building, to gain insight for Charlotte County as a possible option.

“They contain rest-rooms, storage and have a split-system HVAC package unit positioned on the exterior of the building,” he said. “The gym provides a clean, well-appearing space for educational activities.”

However, Roller expressed some design concerns including the absence of a mechanical room within the building and the HVAC being positioned outside.

“It’s hard for me to nail anybody down on what these buildings cost,” he said.

He said the principal at Chase City Elementary School mentioned about $300,000 when their gym was built in 2012.

Roller said that cost equaled about $50 a square foot.

He said after checking on the Virginia Department of Education site for construction costs concerning stand-alone gymnasiums, all of those were a little more than $100 a square foot.

“We will continue to investigate price, but proper architectural engineering and design services are a must to build a quality facility that meets all the codes that we can operate and maintain efficiently,” Roller said.

Leonard said she talked with the Superintendent of Mecklenburg County Public Schools Paul C. Nichols, who extended an invitation to the Charlotte County School Board and supervisors to tour their facilities.