No full-size gym for new school

by Kim Robins - Posted on Feb 06, 2013 - 12:58 PM

The new middle school planned for a site on T.C. Walker Road will not include a full-size gymnasium, it was determined during a lengthy joint meeting between the Gloucester School Board and county supervisors Saturday.

The new campus will replace Page Middle School, which was demolished after it was severely damaged by a tornado in April 2011. Most of the discussion during the first four hours of the meeting related to the new school, and was guided by six questions posed by supervisor Andy James. One question asked what would be involved with including a full-size gym.

It was a question the school board had answered before, and the response has always been $2 million more. School board chairman Randy Burak said the school board had initially sought $32 million for the new school, which included $8 million in Page insurance proceeds. Supervisors voted to allocate only $18 million for the project, leaving the school division with a $26 million budget for the school.

"The things the community really wanted were excluded," said supervisors’ vice chairman JJ Orth. He said a full-size gym and auditorium were among those things. "The money was not there," school board member Ann Burruss responded, adding that a lot of the things that were initially planned for the school were cut due to budget constraints.

"It’s your decision whether you want a full-size gym," supervisor Carter Borden told the school board. "We’re designing within our budget. You are the one who said not a penny more," school board member Kim Hensley replied.