WISE — Ribbon cutting ceremonies for two new high schools were announced during Tuesday’s Wise County School Board session.
The ceremony formally opening the doors to students and staff for the first time at Union High School in Big Stone Gap will be at 5 p.m. on Jan. 6. The ceremony for Central High School in Wise will be at 5 p.m. on Jan. 8.
Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry told the board Tuesday that work on the new Union High facility should be complete in the next 15 days. Both schools are on schedule and under budget. Perry said he and school division Finance Director Ron Vicars will approach the Wise County Board of Supervisors on Thursday about letting the school division apply an expected surplus of between $500,000 and perhaps slightly more than $1 million toward support facility improvements — particularly athletic facilities — at the two sites.
One of the possible additional upgrades could be a badly needed loop road at the Union High complex that includes Powell Valley Primary and Powell Valley Middle schools. The school division has long hoped to improve traffic flow at the three schools, notorious just before the school day begins in the mornings and ends in the afternoons.
Providing a new loop road and school bus lanes “looks very positive,” Perry said Tuesday, a project that “looks like a possibility and be in budget.”
Detractors of the $60 million high school consolidation project claimed two new high schools and a third — renovations and additions to Eastside High School in Coeburn — could not be built within budget. The project also provided a new gym for Appalachia Elementary School.
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