HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - It was an announcement no one saw coming.
Henrico will soon break ground on two new school buildings to replace the current Highland Springs and Tucker high schools. It’s the first time in decades the county has decided to replace school buildings rather than just renovating them.
The Tucker community is ecstatic. They’ve been wanting major upgrades to the site for a while. The county was even on board to renovate the site until a review of available funds proved Henrico is able to do much more.
As Tucker High School students showed their school spirit and Thursday’s announcement, they were joined by cheerleaders from the other side of the county who are just as excited.
“We’re good students, but we’re just judged by where we’re at,” said Highland Springs student Ahman Foster-Powell. ”The students already learn a lot now. With the new school and environment, they’ll want to learn even more."
Foster-Powell is a high school senior so he won’t get to enjoy the new building, but current freshmen like Dayman Parrish could, if the timeline for construction holds up.
“I think it will be nice,” Parrish said. “The school has been around for so long. It would be nice to get some new improvement in there.”
Each school is slated to cost $80 million.
"This investment in education is one of the many reasons Henrico is a fabulous community to live in,” new superintendent Amy Cashwell said.
The new J.R. Tucker will be built on the school’s North Parham Road campus, where the existing 1962 building now stands. The new Highland Springs is planned on a wooded property along East Beal Street, adjacent to the existing school, and will front South Airport Drive.
Highland Springs students will still be able to attend class at the current school while the new structure is built next door. As for Tucker, they’re still figuring that out.
"Once we put it out to bid and see what kinds of things architects can imagine as possibilities with the limited amount of land space there, we’ll know what’s possible,” Cashwell said.
One thing's for certain. There's an energy in the air due to an announcement that came completely off guard.
Construction is expected to start next year with completion dates in 2021. Tyrone Nelson, who is on the Board of Supervisors, credited the success of the county’s meals tax for being one of the factors helping make the construction possible.
School officials say funding will come from “several sources” including a 2016 bond referendum, meals tax reserves and bonds from the Virginia Public School Authority.