Tuesday, September 27, 2022

WJCC Unveils Construction Timeline for Fourth Middle School

James Blair administrative offices
James Blair administrative offices

Although funding for a fourth middle school has not yet been finalized, Williamsburg-James City County Schools are moving ahead with a timeline for construction.

Administrators in the school division have drafted a 45-month plan to develop the school from design to completion, beginning January 2015 and concluding in time for the 2018-19 school year.

WJCC will solicit proposals regarding architectural design, value engineering — maximizing the efficiency in design and construction — and construction management from February through December 2015. The school division plans to select from those proposals by February 2016.

Once the initial design and preparation phases are completed, WJCC will open the bidding process to construction companies to build the school. The proposed timeline projects April 2016 for the opening of the bidding process, with a contractor chosen at the second monthly school board meeting in June 2016.

Renovation and construction on the fourth middle school is scheduled to begin at the James Blair site in July 2016, and last for 25 months. The school division expects the building to be substantially completed by May 2018, with final completion scheduled for July 2018.

The proposed timeline schedules the completion of the building in time for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Funding for the project has not been finalized, as the City of Williamsburg has not yet voted on the proposal. Each member of the City Council has said they will likely support the plan when the time comes.

The James City County Board of Supervisors approved phase one of the plan in November.

The September 2018 opening date comes nearly 10 years after the school division first identified the need for a fourth middle school due to looming capacity issues.

In a cost-saving measure, WJCC closed James Blair Middle School in 2010 to correspond with the opening of Lois S. Hornsby Middle School. Continued population growth in the division has made a fourth middle school a necessary addition.

Last year, Superintendent Steven Constantino submitted a plan to build a 950-seat middle school on the James Blair site over one phase at a cost of $49 million, but the supervisors declined to fund the proposal.

The supervisors approved $28.5 million in June 2014 for “classroom expansion,” and Constantino “reverse-engineered” a plan to match the appropriation. The current plan would build a middle school on the site over two phases, deferring an estimated $29 million for phase two until 2024. The school board recommended the plan in October.

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