A full-size gymnasium is out and a storm shelter is a maybe in the planning for the new Page Middle School. Gloucester County School Board members said they were not willing to sacrifice instructional space for a competitive gym, but agreed to include the adjustments for a storm shelter as an add alternate in the school plan.
The decisions came in the continued discussion on Page planning during the board’s Oct. 9 meeting. County supervisors had asked the school board to consider adding a full-size gymnasium to their plan and to have it reinforced to storm shelter strength. "I am not opposed to having all of it if the county supplies the resources," said school division superintendent Ben Kiser.
Initial plans for the school included a full-size gym, but also a $31 million or $32 million cost estimate. As funding plans were firmed up, the division only had $26 million, which included $8 million in insurance proceeds for the tornado damage at the previous Page Middle School and $18 million from the county.
The full-size gym, at a cost of $1.8 million to $2 million, would require 7,000 square feet more than what is in the current $26 million plan, Kiser said. The full-size, or competitive, gym has a regulation-sized basketball court and room for bleachers.
Kiser said the only way to add it and stay within the construction budget would be to reduce other interior spaces. He said planners had already considered reducing the overall space from 121,000 square feet to 116,000 square feet to keep the price from surpassing $26 million.
"I think we need to pull back and remember why we’re building this building," said board member Ann Burruss. "I cannot wrap my head around lessening the instructional space. That’s what schools are for."