CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A major grant is going to support a project to modernize a middle school in Charlottesville.

The Virginia Department of Education has awarded a $17.6 million grant to Charlottesville City Schools for the project at Buford.

According to a release, this grant will allow the city to reach the full estimated $91.8 million cost for the project, which includes renovating the fine arts building, a terraced outdoor classroom, and a redeveloped school garden without taking funding from other school facility needs or capital improvement projects.

The funding is part of the VDOE’s School Construction Assistance Program.

For Charlottesville, this project is the first significant investment that is being made in school facilities since Charlottesville High School opened in 1974.

The completed renovation project will have all sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in one expanded building meeting current 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 is expected to begin shortly after the current academic year ends and students will continue to attend classes in the school throughout the three-year project.

“As the schools brought forth this project for final approval, we and the City were eyeing this grant program with great hope,” said CCS 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.”

The release says other projects that will be coming up include the creation of a centralized pre-K at Walker Upper Elementary School and returning fifth-grade students to the neighborhood schools.

Another multi-year project that is set to start this summer is the replacement of the roof at CHS.