Construction begins in October to renovate Chesterfield school

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - One Chesterfield county school that's bursting at the seams is one step closer to getting some relief.

School leaders today signed off on a new construction bid to renovate Watkins elementary on Coalfield Road in Midlothian.

Watkins is the most overcrowded school in Chesterfield. Built in 1966, it's in need of more than just a makeover.

In just a few weeks, sounds from construction equipment will accompany children's laughter at Watkins elementary.

The home of the coal miners has outgrown itself.

Originally built for 750 students, Watkins now has more than 900 enrolled.

"It's a tight community, a rich history but obviously in need of some renovation work," said Chesterfield Schools Spokesman, Shawn Smith.

More trailers have been added behind the school as classrooms for some students.

As part of the renovations, 8 new classrooms will be built to help ease overcrowding.

The trailers will stay in place during construction.

Along with more classrooms, the five million dollar project calls for new music and art rooms as well as a new bus loop.

It's moving from the front to the back of the school.

"That will allow us to have some additional parking spaces probably still not enough for the community but much more than in the past," said Smith.

The district is also enhancing security at Watkins by shifting the office to face the front doors, which are kept locked and monitored by cameras.

"A lot of our older schools do not have a front office that faces the front door obviously not being able to see who is trying to come in and come out of the building," said Smith.

Construction is expected to begin in early October with renovations completed by the fall of 2013

The Watkins elementary school construction project is one of the remaining few under a 2004 bond referendum which contained funding for renovations.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.