As planning continues for a new high school in Lynchburg, city leaders are raising concerns about the project.
The school board is researching two options for addressing problems at Heritage High School. Both involve constructing a new building on the same site as the current one.
Members of Lynchburg City Council were briefed Tuesday by Ben Copeland, Lynchburg's Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Administration.
Engineers are planning for a 25,000-square-foot building, with an estimated price tag of $85-million. Some council members would like to see the cost driven down to around $60-million.
"The appropriate thing to do is plan for a school that does what we want it to do, to try to generate the best possible Heritage High School we can, and then assess what it will cost us, so that we can figure out whether or not we can pay for it," said Lynchburg's mayor, Michael Gillette.
Another concern is how construction would effect student athletes. Officials are studying the idea of building the new school on top of existing athletic fields. Students would lose those fields for three years, while the new school is being built.
Copeland said the school system might partner with nearby schools, such as Campbell County's Brookville High School, to use their athletic fields during construction. Council members suggested involving Lynchburg's Department of Parks and Recreation, which could also provide alternative facilities.
No final decisions are being made right now about what should be done with Heritage. School officials will hold design workshops in late February and early March to gather ideas from Heritage stakeholders, who will share input on what a new school should look like and what amenities it should include.
School officials believe the workshops will give them enough information to form a concrete proposal that can be used to seek funding from city council.
"We can't make money decisions until we know what we are buying," said Gillette. "When we have a little bit more detail about what (the new school) would look like, then we can get back into the discussion about what is affordable and how we are going to cover those costs."