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A pair of sites remain in consideration for the York County School Division’s next elementary school.
The county’s school board reviewed a feasibility study at its meeting Monday night that evaluated two potential sites for the school, one near the Marquis at Williamsburg shopping center – off Route 199 near Water Country USA – and one adjacent to Yorktown Middle School.
The results of the study determined both sites are suitable locations for school construction, based on criteria like geography and infrastructure.
YCSD Associate Director for Capital Plans and Projects Mark Tschirhart said the study evaluated the two sites for their ability to support 500- and 700-student elementary schools. Tschirhart said a 500-seat school would be about 74,000 square feet, while a 700-seat school would be about 90,000 square feet.
The site near Yorktown Middle would lay to the west of the existing school building on Goosley Road.
The Marquis site would be in a currently wooded area near Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Interstate 64 interchange with Route 60. When the residential component of the Marquis is completed, the school would be nestled within the housing developments and serviced by as-yet to be constructed roads and infrastructure.
Tschirhart said both sites would support the construction of a 500-seat school, with enough space to construct a two-story addition that would expand the building’s capacity to 700 students. He added the gymnasium and cafeteria would be initially constructed to support 700 students, and would not have to be expanded at a later date.
YCSD is planning for the new school to address capacity concerns at Magruder and Yorktown elementary schools. Both schools are near their capacity figures, with several new residential developments, like the Marquis, Nelson’s Grant and Whittaker’s Mill, poised to add more students to the attendance zones.
Last year, the school division proposed building a new 500-seat elementary school at the Yorktown Middle site for $23 million, but the York County Board of Supervisors did not approve funds in its capital improvement plan, which coordinates funding for major construction expenditures.
This year, the supervisors voted to fully fund YCSD’s capital requests, including $23 million for the elementary school in fiscal year 2017.
Tschirhart said time would be of the essence, as construction costs could rise by as much as 5 percent annually until the building was completed.
YCSD Chief Operations Officer Carl James said it would take additional examination in the coming months and years to determine which site would be better suited for the new school.
“We’ll look at enrollment, where the kids are, forecasts from the county, and make sure we know where those kids will be,” James said. “It will impact both [Magruder and Yorktown].”
Board member Cindy Kirschke agreed, saying the school division should not be hasty in selecting a site.
“The land may be better near Yorktown Middle, but the need might be near Water Country,” she said. “We can’t build a school and then have the kids on the bus for a lengthy time.”
Board Chairman Mark Medford said other factors beyond the division’s control could affect the suitability of the sites.
“If the Marquis isn’t developed in two to three years, that throws the whole timeline off,” he said.