School leaders discuss options for Elkhardt Middle School’s mold problem

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Could a brand new school be the solution to fixing the Elkhardt Middle School problem? That’s what the school system wants.

“Should the existing Elkhardt middle school be repaired? Should the existing Elkhardt Middle School be renovated,” asked Tommy Kranz at Tuesday Night’s Richmond School Board Meeting.

Those are the two questions most walking into Tuesday’s school board meeting were grappling with — but that was not the case.

“If the answer to both of those questions is no is there a better alternative for the students of Elkhardt Middle School and the district,” asked Kranz.

Richmond Public Schools say yes. The cost to repair Elkhardt Middle School would be around $9.5 million and the cost to renovate the school would be about $23 million. The school system says that would only put a band aid on a school that is already more than 50-years-old.

The other problem? The school wouldn’t be big enough.

“It’s projected to grow over the next five years by 103 students,” said Kranz.

The solution presented by the school system to the school board would be to build a brand new Elkhardt Middle School that would hold 1500 students. In that case, it would be big enough to hold all the students from Elkhardt plus the students from the aging Thompson Middle School. The two schools would be combined into one. The price tag would be $60 million.

“The benefit would be that the annual operating cost of that school would save the district $1 million per year,” said Kranz.

School board members love the idea of new schools and lower operating costs, but that’s obviously not all they need to consider when making the decision.

“These things are obviously not free to build and we have to be able to pay police officers and fire fighters and all the other services that the city provides,” school board member Glen Sturtevant said.

Time is not on their side.

“Short term is deal with the reality that is 174 days away and that is the start of the next school year,” said School Board Member Jeff Bourne.

Of course this right now is just an idea and a long long way from possibly becoming a reality, but regardless of what course is chosen students would likely attend Thompson Middle School for the next 24 months until the construction or renovations would be completed.

Stay with 8News for the latest updates.

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