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Orange OKs science lab upgrade
BY DAN McFARLAND
Orange County is going ahead with a plan to deal with two immediate problems at its high school--overcrowding and a shortage of science labs.
The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to commit $800,000 to the previously discussed two-phase project to update Orange County High School science labs by next school year. The nine-month plan will involve placing five modular classrooms on the high school grounds, and relocating classes into them to allow the conversion of three current business and finance classrooms into two new science labs.
Following completion of the labs, the modular classrooms will continue to be used to deal with projected overcrowding at the school.
At their Sept. 27 joint meeting with the School Board, the supervisors were told that, with current science-lab classes averaging 30 students each, lab experiments in the school had largely been reduced to demonstrations only, not student-conducted experiments.
Under new Virginia Standards of Learning for science, school officials said, students will need to actually be doing the experiments themselves to be successful.
The high school's projected enrollment for the next school year will match its 1,531-student capacity, and is expected to grow beyond that the following year.
Following discussion over whether fewer modular units might be used, and how the project might be phased into the current budget year, Supervisor Lee Frame moved to allocate $800,000 toward the project to allow the work to begin in time for completion by next school year.
All five supervisors voted in favor of the motion.
In other action, following a public hearing at which no one spoke, the supervisors voted unanimously to amend the zoning ordinance to require evidence that all delinquent real-estate taxes and other charges constituting a lien against a property have been paid before any special-use permit, building permit or other planning-related application will be approved.
They also approved a change to county personnel policy allowing the county to assist employees with the cost of paramedic training, and to allow employees to attend such training on duty when staffing permits.