Hutchison Elementary School is showing its age. The school was founded in 1975 and while it still provides what principal Sheila Kearney calls, "an attractive educational space" for its students, the school does need some upgrades.
"It needs a facelift, but more importantly it's updating the building. In terms of technology, it's going to be wonderful," Kearney said. "Right now, for example, our computer lab is in a room that doesn't have enough power to run all the computers we have."
In addition, the school was built under the so-called open-school model, so many of the classes do not have doors, which can be a safety concern, Kearney said.
The proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP), covering fiscal years 2005-2009, includes a complete renovation and 12-room addition for Hutchison. Also included in the proposed CIP, which is expected to be adopted by the School Board Jan. 22, is the continuation of Floris Elementary School's renovations, a 12-room addition for McNair Elementary School and planning money for a 36-classroom elementary school to be built in the Coppermine area.
IN ALL, the CIP is projecting $651.6 million in improvements, of which only $479.4 million is already funded through pervious bond issues. Factoring in improvements in the subsequent years — fiscal years 2010-2014 — and the bill tops $1,936 million.
The Herndon projects total $51,700,000 over the life of the projects. And in part, due to a $25.5 million savings resulting from the public-private partnership that is constructing the south county high school, several projects were moved ahead of schedule, including Hutchison, which is anticipated to complete renovations in 2006 instead of the previously expected 2007.
"The plans are done. They were finalized two years ago," Kearney said. "I've met with some design people. They should be starting in the spring. I'm guessing with the administrative offices, which is the addition work."
Gary Chevalier, director of the Office of Facilities Planning Services for the school system, said the school system is anticipating a 485-elementary-school classroom deficit by the 2008-09 school year.
"We're anticipating 80,000 students this year for the elementary-school membership," Chevalier said. "We expect that to peak to more than 84,000 in 2009."
More specifically, Cluster VIII, where Floris and McNair reside, will see a need for 401 additional student spaces at the elementary level by 2008.
According to the CIP, the projected 2004-05 membership at Floris, whose capacity is 742, will be 818 and will max out at 889 by 2008-09. At McNair, with a capacity of 992, the enrollment is expected to be 1,069 next year and jump to 1,246 by 2008-09.
To combat the increasing need for classrooms in this area, Chevalier said the school system is proposing building a new elementary school on the Coppermine Road site, "probably opening in 2010," he said.
By comparison, Cluster I, which houses Hutchison, does not have any capacity issues, in part due to the opening of Colvin Run Elementary in the Vienna area this year, and additions to Longfellow Middle in Falls Church, Cooper Middle in McLean and Langley High in McLean, Chevalier said.
ONCE THE RENOVATIONS begin, Kearney intends to make the process a learning experience. She had been through the process before as principal at Churchill Road Elementary in McLean. There, various workers would visit the classrooms and integrate the work being one into the students' lessons.
"The architect came in a math class and spoke about scale. At another time, we let the kids look at some of the excavation work being done," Kearney said. "Every class had someone come in. We have all these incredibly skilled people and you get to know them. They're in your building for two years and become part of the school commun