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Middle School Modernization

About the Middle School Project

Main Entry and Drop-off Area for Modernized Middle School

Main Entry and Drop-off Area for Modernized Middle School

Just the facts: Middle school construction began in June 2023 and is slated to be finished in August 2026; students will continue learning in the existing facility while construction is underway. To see how your child will be impacted by the project, check the graphic below.

Upgrades included in this modernization:

  • Education – new spaces will support engaged learning, community-building, and instructional needs
  • Safety – a variety of internal safety features will accomplish the goal of connecting all learning spaces into one building so that students and staff do not need to walk outside between class changes.
  • Lighting – all learning spaces will have natural light, which has been shown to boost both learning and mental health
  • Ventilation – there will no longer be noisy in-room heating and cooling units. The new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system will result in reduced noise levels and improved air quality; in addition, windows will be operable to safely allow for fresh air on good-weather days
  • Energy – with fossil-free geothermal energy and many other efficiencies, the new facility will slash energy consumption by two-thirds
  • Accessibility – including a ground-floor main entrance, this design will resolve the many accessibility challenges that the 1965 construction presented

Graphic showing how middle school modernization will affect students

  • New Name Recommended for Buford; Groundbreaking for Modernization Project Set for Friday, June 9

    As part of the plans for modernizing Buford Middle School, Charlottesville Superintendent Dr. Royal A. Gurley Jr. has recommended a name change to Charlottesville Middle School effective August 2025, when students are planned to begin using the new building on the school campus.  

    The School Board discussed the possible name change at Thursday’s meeting and plan to vote on the decision at their next meeting on Tuesday, June 27. The schools began seeking community feedback on the question on May 25. Community members can email to register their input.

    The decision is time-sensitive since some items that include the renovated school’s name have long planning or order-fulfillment timelines. For instance, a committee is currently being formed to make decisions about signage and other environmental graphics. 

    “This recommendation follows the current trend to move away from school names that honor individuals,” noted Dr. Gurley. “In addition, it indicates that we are essentially building a new school serving grades 6-8. The recommended name is fitting since this middle school will become the place that welcomes all Charlottesville sixth-graders from their neighborhood elementary schools.”

    Groundbreaking Ceremony on June 9
    The project will soon be underway. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held with Buford students and staff on the last day of school, Friday, June 9 at 9am. Interested media should connect with Beth Cheuk ( or Amanda Korman (

    Other Project Updates
    Work on the three-year project will begin on Monday, June 12. Project leaders briefed the School Board last night, celebrating the award of a $17.6 million state grant in support of the project and releasing a slide deck full of renderings showing the future facilities. They also discussed the “big picture” for how students will continue learning on the campus. First, students will learn in the current classrooms while the new facilities are constructed. Later, students will learn in the new building while the older portion of the campus is renovated. And finally, the presentation discussed the formation of the environmental graphics committee and the recommended name change.

    • The Virginia Department of Education has awarded Charlottesville City Schools a $17.6 million grant to support the modernization of the city’s middle school.

    The grant, part of the VDOE’s School Construction Assistance Program, will enable Charlottesville to achieve the full estimated $91.8 million scope of its middle school project—including the renovation of the fine arts building, a terraced outdoor classroom, and a redeveloped school garden—without compromising funding for other school facility needs or capital improvement projects.

    The City of Charlottesville oversees city school facilities, and the middle school modernization will be its first significant investment in school facilities since the opening of Charlottesville High School in 1974. It will bring all the City’s 6th- through 8th-graders into one completely renovated and expanded building that meets today’s educational, safety, environmental, and accessibility standards.

    “We appreciate the schools’ diligence in pursuing all funding opportunities,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. “With all the inflationary pressures we face to fund so many important priorities, this grant is a major contribution.”

    Construction at Buford Middle School will begin shortly after the school year ends on June 9. Students will continue to learn at the school during the three years of construction.

    “As the schools brought forth this project for final approval, we and the City were eyeing this grant program with great hope,” noted Charlottesville Schools Chief Operations Officer Kim Powell. “I cannot begin to tell you how excited and thankful we are to have the state’s support on this project.”

    Other related school facilities projects on the horizon include the creation of a centralized preK at Walker Upper Elementary School (which currently serves fifth and sixth-graders) in conjunction with returning fifth-graders to the six neighborhood schools. Other significant facilities improvements include the multi-year replacement project for the CHS roof which is starting this summer.

    Charlottesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Gurley noted, “This grant is instrumental in helping the city achieve the full scope of the middle school project without straining support for other facilities needs. We appreciate the support from both the City and the Commonwealth.”

  • Aerial view of modernized middle school

    Aerial view of the modernized middle school on the current Buford campus

    Dear staff, students, and families–

    I could not be more excited to let you know that after twenty years of talking, planning, and hoping, we will start work on modernizing our middle school in June.

    After receiving construction bids in March, last week the Charlottesville City Council approved moving forward with the project. The total anticipated cost will be $91.8 million, which is the City’s first significant investment in school facilities since the opening of CHS in 1974.

    What will this investment offer our students, staff, and community? This modernized middle school will meet the educational, safety, environmental, and accessibility standards of today, upgrading facilities that have been largely unchanged since their construction in the 1960s. This modernization will bring all the City’s 6th- through 8th-graders into one building, and it marks the first step in creating a centralized preK center at Walker School. And for the first time in decades, 5th-graders will learn in their neighborhood elementary schools. This project is a win for our whole community. Read on (below) to learn more.

    Want to say thank you? I do! Join me in thanking the City Council for their ongoing support of our schools, including this exciting middle school modernization!

    –Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr.