Plans for New Riverheads Elementary Presented to School Board

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Families and educators have been waiting for years for a new Riverheads Elementary School and it seems the community is one step closer.

At the Augusta County School Board meeting Thursday evening, the architectural firm presented the drawings for the project. If all goes according to plan, leaders hope to open the doors to a brand-new elementary school by the fall of 2016.

While the school board has to weigh numerous needs in times with a shrinking budget, the members agree: this one has waited long enough.

"I'd like to point out that over the last several weeks we've been accused of a lot of things. But I think we're all pretty solid that this project needs to be at the top of our priority list,” said Nick Collins, chair of the school board.

As the structural and hardwiring issues at Riverheads Elementary School continue to pile on, leaders hope the drawings for the new building will soon become a reality.

"So many future decisions depend on this happening,” Collins said.

The drawings presented Thursday night reveal a 91,000-square-foot site that would sit next to Riverheads High School. Leaders hope to send 750 kids there. The project is expected to total $18.6 million.

"So yes, I am very comfortable with where we are at this point. And we will continue to hammer away at it,” said Superintendent Chuck Bishop.

A secure entrance, glass to allow natural lighting, and brick masonry appear in the architectural firm's preliminary drawings. While planners uncovered soft soil and minor waterways that could tack on extra problems and cost, leaders said it was nothing out of the ordinary for the county.

"Things will go up, they'll go down, they'll settle in. At some point, they'll kind of settle in, but you never know until bid day where you really come in,” Bishop said.

Money has been tight but leaders decided against closing Verona Elementary School, an option that was briefly considered due to daunting budgetary pressures. They hope to use funds from the eventual selling of the Ladd Elementary School plot.

"We are not ignoring other needs. It's just that it's time for this project,” Collins said.

From here, school leaders will continue hammering out details. They all agreed Thursday night on moving forward with the plan, and presenting a report to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors.