The Community Facilities Bond Plan budgets $43 million to replace Grange Hall Elementary School.
When it comes to schools, Chesterfield’s two most recent bond referendums have sought to address very different challenges.
The 2004 referendum was mostly focused on construction of new schools and additions to existing buildings that were needed to accommodate steadily increasing enrollment driven by an active housing market.
By the time Chesterfield voters went to the polls to vote on another referendum in 2013, circumstances had changed significantly. The Great Recession of 2008 slammed the brakes on new residential construction; with growth slowed, county and school leaders turned their attention to community revitalization, replacing or extensively refurbishing several aging schools to bring facility parity to some of Chesterfield’s oldest neighborhoods.
The 2022 referendum strikes a balance. If approved by voters on Nov. 8, the Community Facilities Bond Plan will allocate $375 million for school projects, boosting capacity in high-growth areas and continuing to replace older facilities.
“We know a strong school system supports higher property values and creates interest for businesses who are looking to relocate in our county,” said Dr. Merv Daugherty, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools.
The Community Facilities Bond Plan budgets $135 million for construction of a high school in the western Route 360 corridor. It would be Chesterfield’s first new high school since Cosby High opened in 2006.
As of Sept. 30, 2021, Cosby was operating at 113% of its design capacity, with 2,273 students in a building designed for 2,003.
There’s also $43 million for a new elementary school in the western Route 360 corridor. Many of the schools in that area are operating at or above their intended capacities.
“We are growing at a rapid rate. In fact, we’re one of the few school divisions in the nation that continues to see this type of growth. We want safe environments in buildings that meet the needs of our growing student population,” Daugherty said.
Midlothian Middle School, which was built in 1924, is slated to be replaced with funding from the 2022 bond referendum.
Another $50 million in the referendum would cover half of the cost of replacing Midlothian Middle School, a 98-year-old building that is by far Chesterfield’s oldest middle school.
One of the few county schools older than that one, Grange Hall Elementary, opened in 1922. The referendum also would provide $43 million to replace it.
And while A.M. Davis and Bensley elementary schools haven’t been around quite that long, both are significantly overcrowded and were identified by the school division’s most recent Facility Condition Assessment as top candidates for replacement.
The Community Facilities Bond Plan includes $42 million and $40 million, respectively, to replace Bensley and A.M. Davis.
“During the previous bond referendum, county and school leaders looked at data to determine if it was better to remodel or rebuild – and the data was very clear that it’s more cost effective to rebuild,” he said. “A remodel will be effective for only 15 to 20 years while a newly built school will be good for the next 50 or 60 years.”
The final school project proposed in the 2022 bond referendum is a $22 million expansion of Thomas Dale High School, which would allow CCPS to bring all of the school’s students under one roof. Currently, Thomas Dale’s ninth-graders attend the West Campus (formerly Chester Middle School) nearby on Route 10.
Daugherty also noted that all new and replacement elementary schools will be built to a design capacity of 1,000 students, creating classroom space countywide to accommodate future enrollment growth.
Even during a period of soaring construction costs, CCPS has completed construction of nine elementary schools and two middle schools since August 2018, all on time and under budget.
“During my time at CCPS, every school project, including rebuilds and newly built schools, has been under budget,” he added. “We follow a strict timeline, we have strong architects and our contractors do a great job of staying on schedule, which helps us keep costs down.”
For more information about the Community Facilities Bond Plan, visit chesterfield.gov/bond.
Chesterfield's 2022 bond referendum includes $40 million to replace A.M. Davis Elementary School.