For elementary-school principals Melinda Carper and Angela Robinson, summer has been filled with the sounds of construction. Carper, principal of Rolling Ridge Elementary School, and Robinson, principal of Sugarland Elementary School, moved their offices to the backs of classrooms, while construction workers bring their schools up to Loudoun County Public Schools standards.
Former assistant superintendent Evan Mohler said the renovations will bring the county’s older schools up new school standards and give children the space they need to learn.
IN 2002, School Board member J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) pushed for elementary-school renovations to eastern Loudoun’s oldest elementary schools, Rolling Ridge and Sugarland elementary schools, which were built in the 1970s. In 2005, the School Board requested $12,960 in general obligation bonds to help finance the schools’ improvements. The bonds passed in 2005, and construction began in summer 2006.
The School Board awarded a $14.4 million contract to Sigal Construction Company for the Rolling Ridge renovations and additions.
"This was a major milestone in my four-year odyssey to provide educational equity and facility improvements to this school, which was built in 1975," Geurin said.
Both schools received new roofs and sprinkler systems before the start of school in September 2006.
Immediately following the last day of school at Rolling Ridge and Sugarland elementary schools in June, teachers packed up their classrooms and construction workers began gutting offices and classrooms, tearing down bathroom tile and knocking out windows to replace them with new ones.
Before construction began, the main offices at both schools were cramped when compared to the offices at new elementary schools across the county.
When construction is complete, the main offices will be more spacious with more room for nurses’ offices and guidance, as well.
Construction workers are also renovating the schools hallways, bathrooms, light fixtures, classrooms, art rooms and a computer lab at each school.
While renovations make classrooms bigger, it is not intended to increase the number of students at schools.
"We had youngsters in book closets for years," Mohler said. "We just needed space."
BOTH SCHOOLS will open with new gymnasiums in September.
Both the schools and the communities will benefit from the new gymnasiums, Mohler said, because they are self-contained and have been built to accommodate adults.
Parks, Recreation and Community Services, as well as other groups, can use the space after hours. The gymnasiums have their own heating and cooling systems, their own bathrooms and entrances and exits.
"So when the community uses it, we are being efficient with energy," he said.
ON THE AFTERNOON of Thursday, July 19, Mohler, assistant superintendent Jeffrey Platenberg and Geurin lapped Rolling Ridge Elementary School. Mohler admired the way the new brick blends with the old part of the school.
"That’s the beauty of doing renovations the right way," he said.
He pointed to the heating, ventilation and air condition system on top of the roof.
"That will be covered with a screen," he said. "So you’re not looking at industrial park."
IN ADDITION, the final phase of middle-school renovations at Sterling and Seneca Ridge middle schools are scheduled to be complete by the beginning of the school year.
The schools will receive new art rooms and improvements to their kitchen areas.
"We want to bring quality throughout the county, equality throughout the county," Platenberg said. "The older schools just didn’t have the space."