The Gloucester School Board voted Tuesday to move ahead with the plan to build a new $26 million middle school for grades six through eight on the 140-acre undeveloped tract it owns on T.C. Walker Road. The new campus will replace Page Middle School, which was ravaged by a tornado a year ago.
The board will use approximately $8 million in insurance proceeds and an $18 million county contribution for the new construction. An alternative considered by the board was to use the money to add to Gloucester High School and move the eighth grade there, and to refurbish T.C. Walker Elementary to house a portion of the sixth and seventh grade population.
"I’m in favor of a six-eight middle school. That’s how we started this process, that’s what we have planned for so many years," said board member Ann Burruss. Board member Randy Burak said all of the comments he had received regarding the choice discarded the plan to add the eighth graders to GHS. "I just don’t think the expansion of that campus is the right move," he said.
Approximately 430 eighth graders are currently housed in a temporary cluster of modular units on the GHS campus, while about 920 sixth and seventh graders are sharing Peasley Middle School. School officials are hopeful the new school can be opened in the fall of 2014.