The Harrisonburg City School Board unanimously passed a resolution in a special meeting Monday morning to consider an unsolicited proposal from Nielsen Builders, Inc., to oversee both the design and construction of the new high school. This proposal, if accepted, could lower the cost and speed up the school’s completion.
The Harrisonburg City School Board is considering increasing the amount retired teachers could receive for unused sick days but will continue to debate the merits of the proposal during a future work session.
The Feb. 12 City Council meeting will be when school board officials present the updated construction cost estimates to city council members so they can consider how quickly to move forward with the new high school building.
Although the school board had originally presented plans to open a new high school by 2021, city council voted almost a year ago to take a slower approach, opening in 2023.
But after Sal Romero and Chris Jones––Democrats whose campaigns supported earlier construction of the high school––won the city council race in November, the school board has begun behind-the-scenes work to make that possible.
Amelia, a first-grader, navigates the lunchroom of Bluestone Elementary School. Through its floor-to-ceiling windows, the snow-covered valley is visible beyond the playground featuring local rocks for climbing and garden beds watered by cisterns. Inside, in the school lobby, a grand piano sits within listening distance of the open-walled cafeteria, gym, and classrooms. Natural sunlight filters into the building through solar tubes, while exposed geothermal pipes provide impromptu learning opportunities for Amelia and her peers.