VMDO picked for school expansion

VMDO picked for school expansion

Charlottesville-based VMDO Architects will design the planned expansion of Brownsville Elementary School, pending resolution of a necessary contract. The firm has designed a number of area elementary projects, as well as the John Paul Jones Arena.

The Albemarle County School Board approved the expansion in December to deal with projected growth in the Crozet area. The 28,000-square-foot addition will expand the capacity to 646 students from 456. Plans for the addition include 10 classrooms, additional kitchen and cafeteria space, and a new gymnasium with a stage. Albemarle County Public Schools’ Capital Improvement Program anticipates the project will cost $10.3 million.

School Board member Brian Wheeler says, “We’re certainly seeing enrollment growth [in Crozet] because of development growth in the area.”

“We’re certainly seeing enrollment growth because of development growth in the area,” says Brian Wheeler, at-large School Board member. “Crozet [Elementary] has been overenrolled since 2002. It was either expand Crozet or expand Brownsville. Initially, the recommendation from the long-range planning commission was to expand Crozet, in part because they didn’t think the School Board would redistrict students.”

In order to deal with overcrowding at Crozet Elementary, the School Board redistricted the area so that some students would either attend Brownsville Elementary or Meriwether Lewis Elementary. This redistricting will take effect in the fall. According to Wheeler, the facility at Crozet Elementary was not conducive to expansion. As a result, Brownsville Elementary was selected.

“We know a lot more homes are coming,” says Wheeler of the 2,200-home Old Trail Village development under construction. “They’ll be adjacent to Brownsville, in walking distance. That might be a better place to put the seats. We didn’t want to expand where it wasn’t appropriate.”

According to Joe Letteri, director of building services, construction of the addition to Brownsville Elementary will not begin until mid-2008. He added that Brownsville faculty would contribute to the design team over the next year.

The addition to Brownsville Elementary is only part of the Albemarle County School Board’s plan to deal with growth in the Crozet area. Wheeler notes that the Board is already at work on plans to build another elementary school in the area.—David Moltz

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