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Norfolk decides to build a new Maury High School for more than $150 million

The 112-year-old Maury High School reportedly suffers from everything from peeling paint to collapsing ceilings. (Photo by Ryan Murphy)
The 112-year-old Maury High School reportedly suffers from everything from peeling paint to collapsing ceilings. (Photo by Ryan Murphy)

Norfolk will build a new high school to replace historic Maury High, the district’s School Board decided Wednesday night.

The Board has spent five years considering options for the 112-year-old school, which has been plagued with facilities issues from peeling paint to collapsing ceilings and floors.

Maury alumni and neighbors pushed for renovating the building. The school district explored both rehabilitation and complete reconstruction, finding that a full rebuild would be cheaper.

It’s moving forward with planning based on an unsolicited proposal the district got in November 2022 to build a new school on the same property.

The most recent figures put a new Maury building between $158 and $164 million.

School Board Chairwoman Adale Martin said that’s the going price for a new high school building of this size. 

“Depending on what the market does, which doesn't look very promising in the next year, it could be much more expensive,” Martin said. “This is going to be a five-year process from beginning, planning to the end.”

As for where that funding is going to come from, the district has a $30 million grant coming from the state. Martin said the rest of the project will come from the City of Norfolk, though the school board and city council haven’t talked yet about the details of funding the project.

Funding major school construction projects like this has become a hot topic in the halls of government in recent years, as districts fall far behind on maintenance and needed rebuilds of school facilities and state funding fails to keep up.

Neighboring Virginia Beach is pursuing reconstruction of Princess Anne High School, the closest thing that city has to a historic high school building.  To offset the costs there, the district is pursuing a public-private partnership with SB Ballard Construction and bundling the construction of three schools together at a cost of around $700 million. (The last high school built in Virginia Beach was Kellam High in 2014, which cost about $75 million to build.)

The school board in Norfolk is still considering whether to sign its own public-private contract with Heartland Construction, the group that submitted the proposal last year. Once the contract is finalized, design can begin.

A press release from Norfolk Public Schools estimates the design process will begin November 2024. If the timeline proceeds as planned, the new school could open in 2029.

The board also said Tuesday it would like to see the historic elements of the original building preserved and developed into housing, though the district doesn’t decide that.

The city owns all public school buildings and has the final say on what happens with the old Maury.

Martin said the pitch to repurpose the building for housing would be a win-win.

“Some people, especially alumni, they’re nostalgic about the building. They have a lot of sentiment there,” she said. 

“The building, the way it is, is not going to serve our kids for the next hundred years.”

NOTE: Norfolk Public Schools is a member of the Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association, which holds the broadcast license for WHRO.

Ryan is WHRO’s business and growth reporter. He joined the newsroom in 2021 after eight years at local newspapers, the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot. Ryan is a Chesapeake native and still tries to hold his breath every time he drives through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

The world changes fast.

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