Cost to renovate Wise County high schools tops $109 million

Stephen Igo • Feb 28, 2007 at 6:06 AM

WISE - Projected price tag to give five half-century-plus small high schools a makeover, and improvements to a 25-year-old model: $109.43 million.

The Wise County School Board was presented cost estimates in 2008 dollars Tuesday for the six projects to bring the county's high schools to 21st century standards. The four architectural and engineering firms hired to analyze and present renovation studies for each of the high schools made their proposals based on the scope of desired improvements provided them by the board.

The bulk of the costs for each project would go toward improvements or outright replacement of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology, heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, as well as other infrastructure needs like new windows, roofs, lighting, ceilings, wall and floor coverings, and to address a litany of disabilities, safety and security upgrades.

New additions at each school are also recommended by architects to meet the academic and other needs of the schools, but those make up less than a quarter of the projected costs at each facility.

Cost estimates for each high school include:

•J.J. Kelly High School in Wise, nearly $30 million including about $11 million in additions such as a new gym and a wing for a new band room, more than $6.4 million in structural renovations, $918,000 for plumbing upgrades, nearly $2.3 million for mechanical (including HVAC), and more than $1.8 million for electrical improvements. Site development would require another $1.5 million, and design fees are put at nearly $2 million.

•Pound High School, just over $16 million including more than $6 million for additions, nearly $3.6 million for building renovations, nearly $1.3 million for mechanical improvements, more than $1 million for electrical upgrades, $511,000 to overhaul plumbing, and a little over $1 million in design fees.

•Coeburn High School, nearly $17.8 million including more than $4 million in additions, $5.2 million in building renovations, $1.85 million for mechanical upgrades, nearly $1.5 million for electrical improvements, and about $1.16 million in design fees.

•Powell Valley High School in Big Stone Gap, just over $19.9 million including about $5.5 million each for building additions and renovations, nearly $800,000 in plumbing upgrades, nearly $2 million in mechanical improvements, almost $1.6 million for electrical, and $1.3 million in design fees.

•Appalachia High School, nearly $18.6 million including more than $2.5 million for site development, almost $2.4 million in building additions, nearly $5.6 million in building renovations, $795,000 for new plumbing, nearly $2 million in mechanical upgrades, almost $1.6 million in electrical upgrades, and more than $1.2 million in design fees.

•St. Paul High School, the youngest of the six facilities at 25 years old, comes in the cheapest at nearly $7.2 million including more than $2.7 million in building additions, $390,000 worth of building renovations, more than $1.1 million for plumbing upgrades, $900,000 for mechanical improvements, and design fees of about $470,000.

Thompson & Litton of Wise is the project manager of the study conducted for J.J. Kelly, Pound and Coeburn high schools; Oliver, Webb, Pappas & Rhudy of Blacksburg presented the case for St. Paul; Appalachian Technical Services of Abingdon for Appalachia; and Beeson, Lusk & Street of Johnson City for Powell Valley. Presenters for each of the proposed projects justified the results of their studies based on the scope provided by the board and a detailed explanation of how those needs were analyzed and determined.

The school board adjourned immediately upon presentation of the cost projections. Board members did not discuss any aspects of the projects in open session.

Wise County School Superintendent Greg Killough provided an impassioned opening to the board's special session before architects made their presentations, saying he was impressed when he took the job 15 months ago by the pride each of the communities take in their schools and their "love of the children."

Killough said when he accepted his post it was to "come here and help this community make a difference" and what would be proposed on Tuesday would constitute "a legacy for the children." He said what is at stake is a quality education system that provides economic development for the county.

"Do our kids deserve the same facilities and academic opportunities as every other child in Virginia?" Killough asked. "Our greatest resource is our children (and the task is now to) renovate and instill pride back in our high schools."

Killough said he recently watched the "We Are ... Marshall" movie that chronicles how Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., and the community rebounded from tragedy when practically the entire football team was killed in a plane crash in 1970.

"Certainly we should be saying, ‘We are Wise County,'" said Killough.

For the 15 months he has been supervisor, Killough said he has experienced "a lot of love, a lot of support and a lot about community, and I hope as we go through this we don't forget it."

The renovations designed to make each high school viable for the next 30-plus years, he said, is the "possible legacy we're going to leave (the region) and for the children."

Killough said Tuesday's special session marked "a beginning, and we all need to work together for the best for our children."

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