Greenbrier County Schools (GCS) will host a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction, renovation, and restoration of Alderson Elementary School (AES) at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. The ceremony is open to the public and will take place in the previous Alderson Community Center / Alderson High School gymnasium.
The school system will facilitate innovative adaptive reuse, renovation, and restoration of the existing Alderson Community Center /former Alderson High, located adjacent to the current AES and out of the flood plain. The initial project cost was estimated at $11 million, with Greenbrier County Schools contributing $3 million and the West Virginia School Building Authority awarding $8 million to Greenbrier County Schools through its Needs-Based Funding program to address safety and health concerns associated with the ongoing flooding issues and extensive updates needed at the school. Since the initial award, materials and construction costs have risen significantly. To ensure the successful completion of the project, the WVSBA recently approved an additional $1,919,000 for the project, with GCS committing an additional $1.5 million to meet the now $14,419,000 project costs.
The existing Community Center/Alderson High building will be renovated into a state-of-the-art facility with updated technology and learning environments to include an addition to house new PreK and Kindergarten classrooms, a kitchen and dining area, and administrative offices. The new construction will be connected to the fully renovated structure to provide a safe and secure single building. Fencing around outdoor recreation and learning areas, a safe school entryway, an elevator, and a separate bus drive and drop-off loop will help create an organized, more secure operation.
"This project was first on the list of facilities projects recommended by the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Committee due to recurring flooding issues, multiple entryways, and the need for major renovations to sustain the use of the school as it currently stands," states Superintendent Jeff Bryant. "The SBA funding will allow us to transform the aging Community Center into a safe, healthy, and secure learning zone for the children of Alderson and make it a focal point of the town. Representatives of the Town of Alderson and the Alderson Community Center have partnered with us on this exciting opportunity and share our enthusiasm that the new school will be the beacon of the community," continues Bryant.
In exchange for transferring ownership of the Community Center from the Town of Alderson to Greenbrier County Schools, the current AES buildings will be given to the town of Alderson. The town is exploring the potential for repurposing areas of the vacated school that are not prone to flooding to house their public library and community meeting spaces. In addition, Greenbrier County Schools will partner with the town to allow community use of the renovated gymnasium and use the school as an emergency shelter in need. The county Board of Education will also grant ownership of other existing parcels of land to the town of Alderson, including the current football field. The field will be owned by the town for community use in the evenings and weekends, with daytime use reserved for Alderson Elementary School.
"This school-community partnership is a win for the students and families of Alderson Elementary, Greenbrier County Schools, and the Town of Alderson. The Community Center building is a special place worth preserving, and this is an innovative way to give the building a new life while meeting the needs of our students and the community. We value our partnership with the town of Alderson and the WV School Building Authority. We hope this project will serve as a model for adaptive reuse and school-community partnerships that other school systems around the state will replicate," concludes Superintendent Bryant.
Construction will begin in January 2023 and take approximately eighteen months to complete. School officials anticipate that students will start school in the newly renovated facility in the fall of 2024.