Monongalia County’s Board of Education has selected the architectural firm DLR Group in collaboration with Williamson Shriver Architects to design the Renaissance Academy - a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focused training center to feature Career & Technical Education (CTE) and high level STEM courses. The project is the number one priority on the Board of Education’s Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan in order to provide space and innovative career training opportunities for students.
Renaissance Academy is a proposed new high school for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Career Technical Education (CTE) and college preparation.
· Renaissance Academy reflects the Monongalia County Schools (MCS) Board of Education’s (Board) Mission, Vision, and Belief Statements. It is the top priority in the Board’s 2020 to 2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP).
· In October 2020, the MCS Board of Education (Board) purchased 135 acres of land in Cassville on Blue Horizon Drive, approximately 3 miles from the intersection of Routes 7 and 19, on which Renaissance Academy, planned additions, and future educational and support facilities will be constructed in a campus setting over time.
· On April 25, 2023, the Board awarded a contract for preliminary architecture/engineering services to a team led by national school design firm DLR Group in association with West Virginia school design firm Williamson Shriver Architects.
· On January 23, 2024, the Monongalia County Schools Board of Education authorized and directed an election to be held on May 14, 2024, to contract debt and issue Public School Bonds not to exceed $142.64 million for the design and construction of Renaissance Academy.
All MCS High School students will be able to attend Renaissance Academy on an alternating day schedule whether undecided about their future career paths, planning to join the workforce or military, or heading straight to college after graduation. Its programs will augment those offered at the home high schools and transform current Monongalia Technical Education Center (MTEC) programs. Renaissance Academy students, facilitated rather than directed by teachers, will focus their own learning by discovering, developing, and refining their personal strengths, interests, and passions. Learning for Renaissance Academy students will be relevant and authentic as they earn credits through Monongalia County’s higher education partners and as they obtain certifications, credentials, internships, and apprenticeships with local and regional industry, health center, and agency partners. Monongalia County, the North Central West Virginia region and beyond are already developing immersive learning environments as students stack their credentials and position themselves in real-world learning and training opportunities. Renaissance Academy will quickly become the regional collaboration center for Monongalia County Schools, industry, and educational partners.
The following Guiding Principles for the Renaissance Academy program, building, and campus are based on a series of visioning workshops held with MCS educators and stakeholders:
Relevance Agility Agency Restoration Transformation
Contingent on voter approval on May 14, 2024, construction will start in 2025 and Renaissance Academy will open to students at the beginning of the 2027-28 school year. After Renaissance Academy is completed, the MTEC facility will become a STEM/CTE campus for Middle School students to engage in career exploration and discovery, likely leading them to advanced coursework at Renaissance Academy.
Career Clusters and Pathways
Renaissance Academy will collaborate with its partners to support the local and regional economy by developing the workforce needed now and in the future. It will offer programs in the same nationally recognized Career Clusters and Pathways that are now offered at MTEC.
Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Information Technology and E-Sports
Architecture and Construction
Law, Public Safety and Security
Arts, AV Technology and Communications
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Transportation, Distribution and Logistics
Hospitality and Tourism
The site selected for Renaissance Academy is central to the three MCS high schools. It is elevated above and prominent from 1-79. Having been surfaced mined in the last twenty years, and having two excavated coal seams below grade, the design team has carefully studied existing conditions to determine their impact on building foundations and structure, roads, and other site construction. Due diligence performed on the site includes geotechnical testing, environmental testing and assessment, and a traffic impact study. Costs to address the impact of existing site conditions have been included in the cost estimate on which the May 14, 2024 vote is to be based.
The Board has set high standards for sustainability including Net Zero Energy and carbon neutrality. The design team has developed a Climate Action Strategy for Renaissance Academy, which will be developed into a Climate Action Plan as design proceeds. Plans to achieve net zero energy include highly efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment, well-insulated walls and roofs, and generation of onsite wind power through a Power Purchase Agreement. A heavy timber structural system and careful selection of materials and finishes will contribute to carbon neutrality. Careful attention will be paid to improve the quality of and mitigate storm water runoff to adjacent downhill properties, and to retain and enhance the natural meadow landscape that has formed since mining operations ceased.
The architectural design for the Renaissance Academy was influenced by 3 primary drivers:
· Programs and spaces needed to engage students and teachers in teaching and learning, ignite their passions, and serve the needs of the local workforce, in accordance with the Educational Specifications developed specifically for this innovative program.
· Design principles forged from engagement sessions with community members, educators, and students.
· Desire to create a school which harmonizes with nature and the history of its setting.
The final concept design, developed with input from the MCS community, sets the building amidst the natural landscape with views to the mountains. A welcoming central Collaboration Commons, to be used for informal learning, gatherings, and social activities, will put learning options on display with windows into the various learning studios, laboratories, and workshops. The intent is to create a school building which piques student curiosity about career pathways and supports the educational program by empowering students to follow their passions.
Preliminary construction and total project cost estimates were prepared by two separate cost estimators, one in West Virginia, and one national, and reconciled with DLR Group and Williamson Shriver Architects. Total project cost estimates include construction costs plus other project costs such as furniture, equipment, design fees, and appropriate contingency amounts to account for the existing site conditions and early stage of design.
· Estimated total construction costs are $125.46 million, which is close to what University High School would cost if constructed today.
· Estimated total project costs, including construction costs, are $155.48 million.
· Public School Bond Sales, if approved by Monongalia County voters, are not to exceed $142.64 million.
· MCS will fund the $12.84 million gap between the Public Bond Sales through lease purchase of equipment and other funds.
-End Executive Summary-
Leading the Way in STEM Education: Monongalia County establishes Renaissance Academy
Morgantown, WV– Monongalia County Schools is moving forward with the establishment of the Renaissance Academy– a cutting-edge Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Career Technical Education (CTE) training space to include instruction in advanced STEM fields. This transformative initiative aims to equip students with the technical environments and skillsets to prepare for the innovative careers of the future.
As the world of technology continues to emerge, Monongalia County recognizes the importance of providing opportunities for a comprehensive educational experience that includes the practical, hands-on learning in STEM disciplines and CTE simulated work environments such as healthcare, biotechnology, sustainable manufacturing, advanced skilled trades, culinary arts and more.
“Bringing the Renaissance Academy to Monongalia County underscores the Board of Education’s commitment to empowering students as the future innovators, problem-solvers, and leaders in academics and applied technology,” says Superintendent Eddie Campbell.
The Renaissance Academy will prepare students to excel in these fields by offering programs that align with evolving and emerging careers. By equipping students with the latest knowledge and practical hands-on skills, Monongalia County Schools is cultivating talent through engaged exploration and discovery to prepare students for higher learning and career readiness.
To do so, the Renaissance Academy will provide dynamic educational environments that reflect the modern workplace. With cutting-edge facilities and equipment, and industry-standard technology, students will participate in immersive learning experiences.
The Academy will also enable the school communities to forge and strengthen partnerships with local businesses, organizations, and higher education institutions to offer students mentorship, internships, and collaborative opportunities. These partnerships will bridge the gap between academia and industry and evolve with the ever-changing workplace.
Monongalia County Schools welcomes stakeholders, business leaders, and community members to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative. By partnering with the Renaissance Academy, you can contribute to the development of a skilled workforce, propel economic growth opportunities, and increase the overall success of West Virginians.
We invite you to connect with us to explore opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and joint educational initiatives that will ensure our students are well-prepared to seize the emerging career opportunities in the STEM/CTE fields.
Renaissance Academy Tri-fold
DLR GROUP PRESENTATIONS:
View the November 30, 2023 Stakeholder Meeting facilitated by DLR Group
View the September 28, 2023 Stakeholder Meeting facilitated by DLR Group
View the August 24, 2023 Stakeholder Meeting facilitated by DLR Group
Meeting audio is low at beginning and is eventually adjusted.
Renaissance Academy In the Media
(some outlets may require subscription)
January 23, 2024 WAJR "Talk of the Town"
January 24, 2024 Morgantown Area Partnership
January 10, 2024 Dominion Post: BOE still mulling over language for the Renaissance Academy bond call
August 24, 2023: WDTV https://www.wdtv.com/video/2023/08/24/renaissance-academy-one-step-closer-being-built/
August 23, 2023: Dominion Post: Not your grandfather's 'vo-tech'
April 13, 2023: Dominion Post Contract could come in next two weeks for new STEM school
September 26, 2022: Dominion Post: Proposed STEM school begins staking claim in Mon