Roanoke Schools, City Planning At Odds Over New Preston Park Elementary School Design

City planners say the school district’s current designs do not adhere to Roanoke’s comprehensive plan.

A rendering of how Roanoke City Public Schools would like its new Preston Park Elementary School to look, from Roanoke-based RRMM Architects. RENDERING COURTESY OF ROANOKE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Roanoke’s school district wants to build a state-of-the-art elementary school in Preston Park, one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the city.

Plans call for the overcrowded school, built in 1952, to be torn down and replaced with a natural-light filled building costing upwards of $33 million.

But city planners say the district’s current designs do not adhere to Roanoke’s comprehensive plan — setting up a potential showdown between city and school officials.

“It’s a suburban solution in an urban setting,” Katherine Gray, a land use and urban design planner for the city, said of the district’s current design. “In a nutshell, it’s not meeting the overall goal and vision of policies [in] our comprehensive plan.”

Roanoke’s planning commission was scheduled to vote next Monday on whether to rezone the property to accommodate the new building. Gray said the district has indicated it may delay its application, and Roanoke City Public Schools confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it had requested a delay “to allow for more meaningful stakeholder engagement and community participation.”