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Consultant tells board one school proposal won't work

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A consultant with M.B. Kahn Construction Co., Inc., told the Bedford County School Board Thursday that a proposal to build a new middle school in the Liberty Zone with the plan to eventually convert it to a high school later on isn’t feasible.

    “It’s not a practical idea,” stated William W. Cram, executive vice president with M.B. Kahn. “The space you need in a high school is so different (from that of a middle school).”
    Cram said he had never been involved with a project that converted a middle school to a high school.
    He did say, however, he has seen many middle and high schools constructed where they shared facilities, another idea that has been proposed for Liberty High School and the new middle school.
    The company has been hired to consider the Liberty campus, and the accompanying land that has been purchased for the new school, to consider the options and propose what they would look like on the properties. In addition to a shared campus, proposals have also been considered about building either a new middle school or a new high school, converting Liberty High School into a new middle school.
    The school board wants more firm cost projections from the study for the options so that those can be presented to the county supervisors as they consider how much funding they’re willing to provide for a new school.
    “We’re excited about getting started on this,” Cram told the school board about the study.
    Board Chairman Gary Hostutler said the school board wants direction on how the campus could be used in the most effective way, considering the hybrid campus where at least some facilities could be shared.
    Cram said in designing a shared campus for sixth through 12th grade, one of the biggest issues is keeping as much separation as possible between the younger students and those in the upper grades.
    During the board members comment time, District 1 member Richard Downey said he attended a work session Wednesday of the supervisors on the budget, “but left without any clear direction on how they were going to go with the (school) budget.”
    Downey, expressing frustration, said he would reserve further comments until later in the process.