The sight of the new high school in Westmoreland County is certainly an exciting one for many. Washington & Lee High School has served the county well, but it is truly creaking with age. The original plan for the new building was unveiled many years ago, and since then, the field that once lay empty has seen the new building go up and up, brick by brick, block by block. At last week’s meeting of the School Board in that county, its Superintendent, Dr. Perry, had a bit more news to give.
The new high school in Westmoreland County has cleared two major hurdles that have recently popped up. The first was the parking lot, which under current plans, was not as strong in certain areas as it was in others, such as the general parking lot as opposed to the bus loop, which was going to be built to full strength. Fortunately, that problem was headed off at the pass with some help from the county’s Board of Supervisors.
“The county authorized Mr. Risavi to initiate a change order whereby we’re going to increase the durability of the parking lot,” Dr. Perry explained, “This will cost about $150,000, and is something that will be good for us and the school, and the county is footing the bill. Any time you have something you need and somebody else is willing to pay for it, I think that’s good.”
The other big problem was the regrading of the athletic field, which had to have a slight crown in the middle in order to be able to host competition games.
“Chairman Fallin and I were concerned when we looked at both of these happening, because we were told there was serious time pressure,” he continued, “The concerns for the athletic field were resolved in our last construction meeting, when they told us and determined that they were not going to do the grading until the spring of next year anyways, so the timing issues have gone away, and we feel good about both of those resolutions. It gives us an opportunity to make sure the money is clear and the money is there.”
This particular facility update also marks the first time that the School Board has started referring to the new high school by the name they selected, Westmoreland High School.
“I’m going to start using the term ‘Westmoreland High School’ rather than ‘The new high school,’” Dr. Perry stated, “Because we had a tour on Friday, back on the 17th, and quite a few people asked me what the name was. We’ve already designated the name, so we’ll be referring to it as such from here on.”
The name was selected back in January in a split decision by the School Board, with Chairman Fallin, Vice Chair Lane, and Dr. Wallace voting for Westmoreland High School to be the name, despite it placing third in the survey sent out.
The three justified this by reading the survey results differently from how they came in. Instead of reading them as votes for each name, they decided to see each vote for Washington & Lee High School as a vote to keep the old name, and each other name was lumped into one category. As a result, the three members in the majority decided that 52% of responders wanted a new name, despite that 52% being split among several different names.
The concerns that Sandra Ramsay and Kathy Lewis, the two who voted against adopting the new name, were dismissed as “irrelevant” by Dr. Wallace, who proclaimed that the costs for signage were already laid in, and that costs of stationary and sports uniforms would have to be incurred anyways. He neglected to explain where the money in the budget is for what will likely be anywhere from a $1 million to as much as $3.5 million, as has been the case with several high schools across the country that rebranded.
The high school’s date of primary completion remains March 8, 2022, and the summer will be spent moving furniture and fixtures over, making preparations for it to open and accept students in the 2022-2023 school year.