|Price tag could reach as much as $120 million|
This drawing represents Option 2 of the possible plans to expand Franklin County High School. Option 1 would simply provide a new career and tech center (long building to the left of the Central Gym above). No drawing was done for Option 3.
Friday, October 12, 2012
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
Options for updating and expanding Franklin County High School to meet current and future enrollment needs could cost from $35 million to $120 million.
Keith Pennington, facility committee chairman, provided school board members Monday night with three design concepts submitted by architects, who recently completed an analysis of the facility.
"In comparison to our current high school facilities, the primary benefit of these new design concepts is an updated career and technical center facility, along with updated math and science classroom space," Pennington told board members. "School safety, a closed campus and appropriate bus loading and parking were also addressed in these initial design concepts."
No major land expansion was considered in the designs, so an off-site relocation of the track and practice fields would be required to accommodate the expansion, Pennington added, as well as the demolition of the four technical buildings on campus.
The first option would cost an estimated $35 to $40 million, Pennington said. This design includes only a new 165,000-square-foot career and technical center on the current campus.
The second option would cost an estimated $80 to $90 million. This design includes a new career and technical center, as well as updated math and science classrooms and lab space, Pennington said. This option would require the reconfiguration of parking and bus loading for safety and flow.
The main benefit of this option is that all facilities would be connected to create a "closed campus" with greater security, Pennington said.
"Except for the athletic fields and track, this option solves the high school needs for 2,500 students and allows for future expansion to 3,000 students," Pennington said. "But this option does not address the space needs at Benjamin Franklin Middle School or elementary schools."
The third option is projected to cost about $120 million and would include building a new high school to replace the current facility, Pennington said. The current facility would be used to address overcrowding at the middle school and would provide space for the relocation of the central office, technology and special education departments.
"The current East building could address elementary school space problems," Pennington said.
"This option provides growth space and solves multiple problems," he said. "This option provides a 30 to 40 year solution for BFMS, FCHS, central office and Rocky Mount Elementary."
"We (the facility committee) are exploring many options and want to present to the public with the most instructionally effective, cost-effective options that solve as many problems as possible," Pennington added.
Several school board members voiced concern about maintaining the character of the high school and most seemed to favor the first option, as the career and technical center was the priority for the board in order to prevent students from crossing Tanyard Road to the West Campus for safety reasons.
"We need to build what we need now, and that's the career and technical center," said Sarah Alexander.
"It comes down to dollars and cents," said G.B. Washburn. "We aren't allowed to plan for the future.... We have to build incrementally."
School board members have made no decisions on the options and are interested in feedback from the community. Residents should contact the school board office at 483-5138 for more information.