Discussions about the design of the new Halifax County High School continued on Wednesday when Jim Boyd and Steve Mundt of Grimm + Parker met with the Halifax County School Board.
Three conceptual designs were presented to council with an emphasis on the view from Old Halifax Road.
The meeting ended with the board agreeing to brainstorm design concepts at home and return to Grimm + Parker.
“We were hoping to get clear indications today, but we didn’t get that. They naturally want to take a few days and hopefully by the start of next week we will receive more guidance,” Mundt said after the meeting.
School board member Lacey Shotwell, administrator of ED-6, also suggested putting the design concepts on the Halifax County Public School website along with a timeline.
Website information about the new high school has not been updated since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with the updated information, Grimm + Parker also plan to release a community survey soon. The school board plans to review the survey before it is made public on the school system’s website.
When discussing the high school’s design, ED-7 administrator Roy Keith Lloyd suggested that the building should have an “opening” similar to a shopping mall.
Shifting discussions to the academic wing, Mundt informed incoming superintendent Dr. Amy D. Huskin that they had considered classrooms ranging from 725 to 800 square feet.
However, Dr. Huskin requested that classrooms be a minimum of 800 square feet.
Overall, Grimm + Parker plan to complete the high school on 233,000 square feet with a budget of $91.50 million.
Before reviewing the three design concepts, Mundt and Boyd also shared information about feedback they received during meetings with administration, teachers, police, firefighters, emergency services and community groups.
Some of the security features that were discussed include card entry for all doors, the provision of multiple school resource officers, and a locking system that could allow administration or other staff to lock down the school building with the flick of a switch.
According to Grimm + Parker, other things that have been suggested to them are to have around 100-200 lockers; have an open cafeteria; have three full basketball courts and place the weight room in the new high school.
The HCHS special education team asked that they not be hidden, according to Mundt. Therefore, Grimm+Parker plans to provide a private and secure space near the main entrance and close to the school nurses.
Mundt also said those in the special education department also requested space for minor medical procedures, a bathroom with shower and tub, and adult changing tables as well as stackable laundry equipment.
Shifting gears to discuss college hallways, Mundt said he received mixed reviews on how much glass they should have in the hallway walls.
He said they were trying to find the balance between enhancement, safety and distraction.
Mundt also said teachers had requested that if they didn’t have their own classroom, they would like the same subjects to share classrooms and would like adequate lockable storage. In previous meetings, they discussed the possibility of teachers sharing classrooms and having planning areas with unique workspaces for each teacher.
Also on Wednesday evening, the school board briefly discussed the future of primary schools and the possibilities of closing three primary schools.
ED-8 administrator Walter Potts said he brought the discussion to the fore because he thought they were going to have to close three elementary schools in order to pay for the approved compensation package. by the school board in November.
In November, the Halifax County School Board asked supervisors to allow them to use $3.2 million in capital deferral funds for a compensation package.
According to County Administrator Scott Simpson, he and the former school administration had discussed using about $1.1 million in school funds as well as about $1.6 million over the next two exercises to complete salary increases.
Once these monies are spent, the school system will have to find a new way to maintain salaries.
Potts thinks closing three schools is the way to complete it.
Former superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg offered the same idea when he first presented the compensation package in August.
On Wednesday, Shotwell and ED-3 administrator Melissa Hicks encouraged the board to consider other options such as redistricting. Hicks also said she plans to present more concrete information at an upcoming meeting.