Henrico to build new J.R. Tucker, Highland Springs high schools

Construction slated to begin in fall 2019

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Henrico County plans to construct a new J.R. Tucker High School and a new Highland Springs High School, replacing two of its oldest public high schools with modern facilities that will serve the community long term.

Each new school is expected to cost $80 million and begin construction in fall 2019, with a goal of opening in fall 2021. The schedule will allow students who are currently freshmen to spend their senior years in the new buildings, according to a plan outlined today by county government and school officials.

“Public schools are the lifeblood of any community,” Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “Henrico’s high quality of life depends on having schools that are great — from the quality of instruction and programming to the design and physical condition of the buildings. It’s time to bring a modern facility to the Tucker and Highland Springs communities.”

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. The existing school building, which opened in 1952 and was renovated in 2008, will be retained.

Funding for the schools’ construction plan is expected to come from several sources. The 2016 bond referendum identified $55 million to renovate J.R. Tucker and $42 million to build an east area technical center, or business innovation center, in the Varina District. Henrico plans to use those funds and cover the remaining $63 million with a combination of other sources, including $26 million in meals tax reserves, $4.8 million in other available funds and up to $32.2 million in Virginia Public School Authority bonds.

“There’s tremendous excitement to go around for everybody,” Henrico County Public Schools Superintendent Amy E. Cashwell said. “To think about what our goals are as a school system, which include preparing students to be life ready, and to then design learning programs around those goals, is a wonderful opportunity. This will take our classrooms to the next level, and it brings great value to see new learning centers serve as the centerpieces of their communities.”

Cashwell added, “I’m proud to work with a School Board and Board of Supervisors that work together to demonstrate that schools are a priority to meet the needs of 21st century, globally competitive students.”

Henrico government and school officials will spend the coming months refining plans for the J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs projects, including completing designs for the new schools, determining how students will be accommodated during construction and exploring future uses for the existing Highland Springs High School building. One potential use expected to be considered is the east area technical center.

“Clearly, we have plenty of work ahead of us, but I’m confident the county administration, working closely with the Board of Supervisors, School Board and school administration, will get the job done,” Vithoulkas said. “It’s a bold move to build two high schools simultaneously — something Henrico hasn’t done in more than 60 years. We have the resources and the need to transform two of our oldest high schools as well as the communities around them. It’s an opportunity we heartily embrace.”

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