Bristol, Virginia school system looks to make changes

POSTED: 5:53 PM Jun 07 2013   UPDATED: 9:37 PM Jun 07 2013

Bristol, Virgina school board members are looking at plans to consolidate current elementary schools and potentially build a new facility.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg told News 5 the school system has been evaluating its facility needs for almost a year, but concerns with the elementary schools go back much longer. "We have some facility issues. We have an aging fleet of buildings. It's been 50 years since we've built a new school, "said Lineburg.

Dr. Lineburg says he would like to see that changed. 

At the center of the potential changes is Washington-Lee Elementary School. Four options presented to the board during a June 6 work session by architects Thompson & Litton revolve around either renovating or replacing Washington-Lee. "It's right in the center. right between Virginia Middle School and Virginia High, between Highland View and Stonewall," said Lineburg. "It's a central location. The site is really, really good."

One option is closing Stonewall Jackson and Highland View Elementary, then moving those students to the Washington-Lee area. "If you look at a couple of our schools, especially [those two,] they are really aging. Highland View, in particular, is labeled as functionally obsolete," said Lineburg.

That means Highland View still works as a school; the building is just past its prime.

The proposed new school has a price tag that ranges $17.9 million to $21 million, depending on whether or not the current building is demolished or renovated, and if the school system has to buy additional land for expansion.

Dr, Lineburg tells News 5 the new school could house as many as 800 students and it would put more teachers under the same roof.

Lineburg said that means a more quality education for students. "[It gives] us more capacity to build for the future and pay teachers in the future, and those kinds of things when you consolidate your work force. We think, at the end of the day, this should be a real exciting event for Bristol. To get a new school at some point in the future would be a great thing for us," said Lineburg.

The school board hopes to make a decision on which plan to present to the city during the board's July 1 meeting.