Chesterfield County officials broke ground Tuesday on a $33 million replacement for Matoaca Elementary School, which opened in its current space on River Road more than 80 years ago.
Voters in 2013 agreed to pay for the new 750-student building as part of a bond referendum aimed at replacing or renovating older schools in the county.
Chesterfield School Board Chairman Rob Thompson said the old school had served its community well at a ceremony Tuesday at the Halloway Avenue site, where red, white and blue balloons floated amid construction vehicles.
“The School Board and I understand how many memories and success stories grew out of that current Matoaca Elementary,” Thompson said. “We realized it was no longer able to serve students in the manner in which we needed to today.”
The original $304 million package leaned toward renovating aging facilities rather than replacing them. But the plan voters approved was expanded to $402 million to build eight schools, rather than the three that were initially envisioned, said Meghan Coates, Chesterfield County’s director of budget and management.
The School Board and the county Board of Supervisors modified the original building plan when they adopted the current year’s budget after learning it would be more cost effective to replace, rather than renovate, more school buildings, Coates said.
In addition to Matoaca, the Beulah, Enon, Crestwood, Etrrick, Harrowgate and Reams elementary schools are being replaced, as is Manchester Middle School. Construction of a new Old Hundred Elementary School is underway.
The Beulah and Enon replacements have already opened and renovations to Monacan High School and Providence Middle School have been completed, school officials said.
The new Matoaca Elementary School, which is expected to open in fall 2020, is being built on the site of Matoaca Middle School’s western campus. That middle school is being torn down to make way for the new elementary school. The sixth- and seventh-graders at the western campus are moving up Halloway Avenue to the middle school’s eastern campus where the first phase of a new middle school is being built.
Thompson said 40 potential sites were assessed as a potential new spot for the new elementary school.
Mary Thrift, Matoaca Elementary School’s principal, said “generation after generation of families” have attended the current elementary school.
“After four previous renovations and additions to our 1937 constructed building, the time had come to move to a new facility more conducive to 21st century public education,” Thrift said.
Steve A. Elswick, vice chairman of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, said the elementary school project will create “one of the most modern schools that money can buy.”
“I know it’s time to start having a dialogue with the community on what we’re going to do with your old beloved school,” Elswick said of the current school building. “We’re going to have that dialogue very soon.”