A growing population and an aging building have the school system looking to get a head start on planning for the future of J.C. Booth Middle School. At Monday’s work session, the Board of Education took a look at their options to ensure the school can handle enrollment now and in the future, whether it be through renovations or a totally new building in a new location.
Set to hit 40 years old next year, updates to the school have been on the county’s to-do list for some time, and according to Director of Facilities Mike Satterfield, it quickly became apparent the building would need more than just minor tweaks.
“In discussions with (Principal Steven) Greene, we said we’ve basically got 1,200 kids in a building that’s really built for about 1,050,” he said.
The initial option would be a basic renovation of existing facilities with gym, kitchen, and office additions at an estimated cost of $15 million.
A new gym would be built where the current bus loop is, the old gym would become the cafeteria with a new kitchen addition, fine arts would move into the current cafeteria, and administration would be housed in a new area built at the front of the school to better align with new safer school entrances.
The basic renovation looks unlikely to be the choice for a number of reasons. It does not address hallway, classroom size, or circulation inside and outside of the building, and the change would be minimal for the price tag.
“(Superintendent Dr. Jody Barrow) said we need something transformational if we’re going to spend this type of money,” recounted Satterfield. “We want more bang for the buck.”
Other options would include a more “transformational” renovation of the building, with one coming in at $28 million and one at $30 million.
Key features would include moving the football field to the back side of the campus and building on its current location, along with completely redoing the front parking lot to help ease backup in and out of the school.
“It really addresses circulation issues much better than any scheme we had looked at,” said Satterfield.
Another intriguing option would be to move the school to a totally new location. The purchase of a large plot of land on Stagecoach Road would allow a chance to start from scratch, using Bennett’s Mill Middle as the prototype, at an estimated cost of $40 million.
With a projected growth coming among elementary-age students, the system knows they will have to accommodate the new students. Options could include opening new buildings or potentially reopening Fayette Intermediate School and Tyrone Elementary.
The current Booth building could be reworked for roughly $6 million and turned into an elementary school, and the Stagecoach land also could fit both a middle school and an elementary school.
Whatever happens with Booth, it won’t happen soon.
“This isn’t going to happen tomorrow regardless,” said Barrow. “If you gave us a decision today, it would still be 12, 18 months before we could get going.”
Barrow assured the school system intends to involve stakeholders in the Booth community heavily in the decision making process.
“At least we have something to share now and some real concrete options.”