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Phase II of school project discussed

OWPR an architect and engineering firm from Blacksburg, presented a Facilities Condition Assessment Report during a joint meeting with the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors and the School Board on Monday, Nov. 25, detailing their findings and recommendations for Phase II of the county’s school renovation projects that include Phenix and Bacon Elementary Schools.

During its regular School Board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10, Charlotte County Public School (CCPS) Superintendent Robbie Mason and board members discussed the report.

“During the discussion, board members raised concerns about the potential for an increase in cost of materials as time passes and expressed a sense of urgency for beginning work on these schools,” said Mason.

Mason explained that waiting could cause the cost of construction to increase, and there is a lot of work that must be done only during the summer hours when students are not in the buildings.”

Project Manager A. Hunter Wilson with OWPR, presented both boards with a 108-page report noting a projected total cost of $3,324,975 for Phenix and $6,788,693 for Bacon.

“In closing, the facilities studied were generally in fair to good condition,” said Wilson. “Opportunity exists at both facilities to provide improvements which will extend the life of the structures, update learning spaces, and reduce existing maintenance issues.”

In July, the BOS voted to award a $25,000 contract to OWPR to conduct a needs assessment of the county’s Phase II school construction project.

According to County Administrator Daniel Witt, earlier in the year, the BOS requested a plan, and an estimated cost from the School Board for Phase II and what was presented was an approximate $7.2 million change order to the existing contract. “The Board of Supervisors did not say ‘yes or no’ to this proposal but had legitimate concerns,” said Witt.

It was during the board’s April meeting that members voted to hire a pre-construction architectural engineer to work with a committee appointed by BOS Chairman Garland Hamlett Jr. on the Phase II school project.

The committee, consisting of members from county staff, school staff, BOS, School Board, and one county citizen worked with the OWPR to review the plans and cost associated with Phase II.

Phenix Elementary School was originally built in the late 1950s. A new classroom addition was added in 2019.

Currently, a multipurpose building is being constructed and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“The original building has been well maintained and is in fair condition. Access to some areas of the building addition meet accessibility requirements; however, rooms and toilets, in the original structure, do not meet current standards,” OWPR’s report stated. “The building addition includes a monitored entry control system. However, a secure entrance for access to the building during school hours is recommended.”

Bacon District Elementary School was originally built in the late 1950s and a multipurpose building was recently built.

OWPR’s report noted, “The original building has been well maintained, but is in poor to fair condition. Campus security is handled via an AIPhone; however, a secure entrance for access to the building during school hours is recommended.”

Phase I of the school’s construction project included the addition of classrooms at Phenix Elementary and gymnasiums at both Phenix and Bacon. Phase I is estimated to cost $3.2 million. Portions of Phase I are still underway.

According to the Phase II proposal from Contractors Jamerson-Lewis, the interior improvements will provide a fresh “like new” feel when completed. “With the exception of the glazed block, terrazzo floors and doors all surfaces including walls, ceilings, and floors will receive new finishes,” cited the proposal.

There will also be exterior improvements consisting of window replacements, roofing, and paving. Other improvements include HVAC upgrades, fire alarm upgrades, ADA access upgrades, kitchen upgrades, safety fences, and canopies.

Jamerson-Lewis are the contractors selected by the county for both phases of work.

According to Mason, the School Board plans to revisit the OWPR report in January, and formulate a recommendation at that time.