By Jimmy Shockley
Northampton County residents had their first look Tuesday night at plans for the construction and renovation of the Northampton high and middle school campus in Eastville.
The $38 million project creates new school entrances closer to the parking lot, adds a middle-school wing near Courthouse Road, and includes a new auditorium, cafeteria and middle-school gymnasium.
Parts of the current school, including the agricultural shop, cafeteria, music room and existing auditorium, will be torn down.
In all, 43,000 square feet will be razed, and 78,000 square feet will be added. The school will grow from its current 110,000 square feet to 145,000 square feet.
Maureen McElfresh, an architect with the Virginia Beach-based firm Waller, Todd and Sadler, said input for the project came from all over, including teachers and students.
“The teachers, they are living it, they are breathing it, and they have great ideas of how they want to teach,” she said.
Artistic renditions show a striking building with two-tone brick and plenty of glass.
“Studies have shown that natural daylighting improves students’ test scores,” said McElfresh. “There’s a direct link between natural light and test scores.”
Northampton County already has borrowed money to cover $25 million of the project.
If passed, the 1 percent tax increase on the ballot for county voters on Nov. 3 would help cover long-term expenses associated with the renovation, said Northampton County Administrator Charles Kolakowski.
The tax increase would add one cent of tax per dollar spent on retail sales excluding groceries, medications, vehicles and farm equipment.
“The school referendum, the one-cent sales taxes, will largely fund the expenses associated with the renovation,” said Kolakowski.