The Henrico School Board Sept. 14 approved schematic designs for new buildings that will replace the current campuses of Jackson Davis Elementary School and R.C. Longan Elementary School.
The projects, which Henrico Schools officials expect to complete between August 2025 and August 2026, will address overcrowding and facilities issues at the schools. The two new buildings each will be able to accommodate 750 students, an increase from the buildings’ current capacity of a little more than 500 students.
The new buildings also will add more educational spaces for certain programs, such as the Early Childhood Special Education Program.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am. I mean it’s been such a long time that we’ve talked about this location and this community needing this boost,” Three Chopt board member Mick Ogburn said about Davis Elementary. “Put in now from three years from now when this opens and invite me back for the opening, because I’m going to be really excited that day that happens.”
The buildings still will be elementary school-sized and will not excessively increase capacity, however, Henrico Schools Superintendent Amy Cashwell said.
“We also want to look at what’s reasonable for the size of an elementary school, so I think this hits the sweet spot,” she said. “It gives quite a bit more capacity at those sites, but it also isn’t what we call a ‘mega-elementary school’ size.”
Davis Elementary is located in the Three Chopt District at 8801 Nesslewood Drive, and Logan Elementary is located in the Brookland District at 9200 Mapleview Avenue.
The new schools will be built adjacent to the current buildings, using land HCPS already has acquired. The construction process will take approximately 20-22 months, and once the new buildings are completed, the demolition of the old buildings will take about 6-8 months.
HCPS will use funds from the 2022 Henrico Bond Referendum and the county’s Capital Improvement Plan budget to fund the two projects.
The design will add an additional 8-10 classrooms to each school, establishing about five classrooms per grade level, and include dedicated space for special education programs and other student activities.
The increased capacity will not only mitigate overcrowding at Longan Elementary and Davis Elementary, but also help alleviate overcrowding at Rivers Edge Elementary and Ridge Elementary, according to Ogburn.
“Because we do have quite the problem, especially near Longan and what we’ve got at Rivers Edge. I mean Rivers Edge is using every inch of space plus trailers,” she said. “So we’re bursting at the seams in both places.”
The new building design divides each school into two main wings and into two floor levels, providing outdoor courtyard space in between the two wings. The design includes an auditorium with a double-sided stage, an elementary school-sized gym and multi-purpose space, extra classrooms, a two-floor media center, and other amenities.
The schools likely will have bathrooms in individual classrooms for students in pre-kindergarten through first grade and group bathrooms for older grade levels, according to HCPS officials.
Ogburn also said that new buildings were needed for both schools due to “crumbling” facilities and the current lack of space.
“These are spaces that certainly Jackson Davis does not have now. I mean, this is ticking so many boxes of what is lacking at that school,” she said. “First of all, this one won’t be crumbling, so that will be the biggest thing.”
Students and staff likely will have to go through a mid-year move from the old building to the new building, however, because the timeline of the projects are dictated by supply chain and material shortages.
“I will say personally as a parent, I’ve been through a mid-year opening. It’s very difficult,” Ogburn said. “It’s hard on the staff to be in one place on Friday and Monday morning we’re in a new building. I assume being an adjacent building, it will be a lot easier, but it’s just really hard on staff. But if it has to happen, it has to happen.”
Construction teams will not be able to salvage a lot of materials from the older buildings, according to HCPS officials, but they are working to keep most of the trees in the southeast corner of Longan’s campus. Davis’ new parking lot likely will have to be changed.
Cashwell said that HCPS will hold community meetings and PTA-based meetings to communicate the building plans with the neighborhoods and school communities. Some school staffers, such as department heads, will be able to have input in the designs.
The school board also approved schematic designs for a new auditorium for Tuckahoe Middle School that is expected to be completed by September 2025. The project will be funded by the Capital Improvement Plan budget.
The auditorium will have 500 seats, a lobby area, and additional storage areas. HCPS plans to bring this auditorium design to Brookland Middle and Fairfield Middle in the future.
With more than 70% of Tuckahoe students involved in performing arts, the new auditorium will have a big impact on the school, Ogburn said.
“That whole community is going to be so excited to have a space, because it is a school that has so many musical programs,” she said. “I’ve been to school performances in the gym, so this is going to be such an improvement.”
Tuckahoe District board member Marcie Shea also emphasized that the project would implement new materials such as new soundboards and lights and not recycle old materials for the auditorium.
“That is what I want to hear. I just want to make sure as we’re revamping all of this, we’re doing it right, as this administration has really been dedicated to for all of our recent construction projects,” she said. “Let’s set our students up for success.”
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Liana Hardy is the Citizen’s Report for America Corps member and education reporter. Her position is dependent upon reader support; make a tax-deductible contribution to the Citizen through RFA here.
Tuckahoe design pictures: PowerPoint Presentation (boarddocs.com)
Davis/Longan design pictures: PowerPoint Presentation (boarddocs.com)