The Brunswick mayor and city council unanimously approved a letter of support for a new Brunswick High School.
Frederick County Public Schools recently did a feasibility study for adapting or replacing the aging high school, built in 1963. The council supports the study’s fourth option, which is to completely replace the high school, allowing students to stay in the current high school while the new one is rebuilt.
Brunswick area parents formed a committee to lobby the school system to choose the fourth option, which they say will cause the least disruptions to the students, according to a flyer provided to the Brunswick council.
The parents want the school system to choose an option that is least disrupting to the students, provides Brunswick students the same options as students at other schools in the county, increased capacity and one that ensures students safety during renovations or construction. Parents also raised concerns about the project cost and timeline.
Brad Eye, one of the parents on the committee, spoke at the Brunswick council meeting Tuesday to urge the members to send a letter of support for the option of building a new high school.
“It’s very important we get a new high school built,” Eye said during the meeting.
The four options looked at in the feasibility study are complete modernization of the current high school, modernization plus additions, modernization plus additions with some demolition and a new high school, Eye said.
The first option was studied because it was mandated by law, but it is not a feasible option, especially with concerns to meeting a target capacity of 1,000 students. The second option is a “Frankenstein approach,” Eye said.
The third option of renovations with additions and some demolitions would meet the needs of the community, Eye said. But parents raised concerns about sending their students to school in a construction zone, especially one with open access.
That left the fourth option, which caused the least effect on the students, Eye told the council. The new school would be placed on the current practice fields.
“While we understand that disruption cannot be avoided, we need to advocate for the scenario with the least possible disruptions to our students,” Eye said.
Councilman Tom Smith questioned the possibility of a new school built on an old farm property, but Eye and Mayor Jeff Snoots said that the school system does not purchase land for new schools.
Another concern with the existing high school is the amount of asbestos in it, a concern raised by Councilman Vaughn Ripley.
The school system does remove asbestos from the school, but there is too much to completely eradicate, Eye said.
“It’s everywhere in that school,” he said.
Even with renovations, the asbestos could continue to be a problem. Although building a new high school is estimated to cost $3 million more than the third option, it is a small price compared to the approximate $90 million that both projects will cost, Eye said. And the fourth option might be cheaper in the long run because everything will be new and energy-efficient.
The feasibility study report will likely be released June 7 and discussed at the Board of Education’s meeting on June 12.