Renovations underway for Blandford Learning Academy to alleviate overcrowding
The building will be used for rising 6th graders
PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - In Petersburg, volunteers are putting the finishing touches on the old Blandford Middle School, which is being repurposed solely for rising 6th graders due to overcrowding at Vernon Johns Middle.
At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, the Petersburg school board decided to move all rising 6th graders from Vernon Middle School to the Blanford Academy to alleviate overcrowding at the middle school. Vernon will now be dedicated to all rising 7th and 8th graders.
For the past week, Angela King and her nonprofit Rebuilding America were tapped by the Petersburg School Board to help breathe new life into Blanford, which will now be known as the Blanford Learning Academy.
“We knew that this community needed our help, and we wanted to be of assistance,” King said. “We got a call from someone who was familiar with our work in the past, and they asked if we could help with Petersburg’s latest project for fifth graders.”
A portion of the old building was previously used as Petersburg’s alternative school, which housed about 30 to 40 students.
The alternative school will operate in LB Pittman Building in the city, which also housed the school systems Career Technical Education Center.
Over the years, the unused portions have been left in poor shape until now. King and her team have repainted and cleaned 21 classrooms.
“We’ve been getting a lot of support from the city, parks and recreation, utilities, and the operations department for the city,” acting Superintendent Dr. Julius Hamlin said. “Everybody has been coming together as one Petersburg to really make sure this facility is together.”
Hamlin says once the inside of the school has been renovated, local businesses and parks and rec will work to repave many of the outside surfaces and recreation areas to revitalize the outside of the building.
Hamlin says reusing the building allows the school system to make use of its resources as the boards seek a long-term solution for overcrowding.
“We are working with the city and other means to really find the funding dreams to be able to turn this into fruition,” Hamlin said. “This has been a wish of our board and our school system to have new and updated facilities, so we’re pursuing other avenues to see if we can construct something new, safe, state-of-art that our city and community stakeholders would be proud of.”
The renovations are expected to be finished this weekend. The first day for Petersburg students will be Aug. 29.
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