A $290.61 million school bond referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot includes funding for 16 classrooms at Langley High School and modular classrooms for Cooper Middle School, both in McLean.
Langley Principal Bill Clendaniel said he’s not worried about voter turnout. Not only are the parents of his 1,927 students among the most supportive in the county, he said, but he’s talked up the subject of the bond referendum at every opportunity, Clendaniel said.
“As soon as it was announced, I have raised the issue in every single forum,” he said. “It started with our monthly principal’s coffee.”
Langley first opened in 1976 and had a minor addition in the late 1980s. A second gymnasium and Hertzler Hall, a large meeting area, were added, but no new classrooms.
“We have five trailers, and we have classrooms that are used every period,” Clendaniel said. The new space “will spread our 2,000 students across a bigger area and relieve crowding in the halls.
“We need additional music rehearsal space and room for computer labs,” said Clendaniel.
“We don’t need 16 classrooms, but we need room for the ancillary things like computer classrooms.
“We have three music teachers. We need another performance area and classroom area.”
Lisa Walsh of Great Falls is talking up the bond referendum in Dranesville District at the request of Dranesville School Board representative, Jane Strauss.
“People get confused, and don’t understand, and think of the bond as an additional tax, which it is not,” Walsh said. “It doesn’t raise our tax rate, and it does not affect our AAA bond rating.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I feel like I’ve gotten a positive response,” she said, “particularly in our community, where the money will directly impact a lot of our kids.
“We are really crowded at Cooper,” said Walsh, appointed by Strauss as Dranesville’s representative to Fairfax County Citizens for School Bond ‘03
“We are just shifting the [overcrowding] problem to the middle and high schools. This group of kids has spent their entire school life in overcrowded situations,” Walsh said.
But if the bond referendum is approved, “They can feel the relief before they get out of school this time,” Walsh said.
“The quicker that addition can come on line, the better. I don’t think it’s a negative that its a modular [classroom construction],” she said. “They have bathrooms; they have hallways; they have doors. [Modular classrooms] go up a lot quicker, and cost a lot less money,” Walsh said.
IF THE BOND PASSES on Nov. 4, Clendaniel said the next “hot topic" would be where to construct the additional rooms at Langley.
“Our space is pretty limited. We can’t give up any parking space,” he said. “We have space in front, where the ‘bowl’ is, and some in the back, where the [five] trailers are.
“There is some room across the front, in an area we can’t do anything with anyhow.”
Among Fairfax County high schools, Langley is second only to the magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, for SAT scores.
Last year, Langley students averaged scores of 601 in verbal, a gain of 10 points since 2002, and 624 in math, a gain of 14 points.
It was also listed in a Newsweek magazine article that named the top high schools in the nation, based on metrics such as how many enriched classes are available and how many students enroll in them.
“People for a long time have bought homes in the Langley community because of the reputation of the schools,” Clendaniel said, and the Newsweek article and the rise in SAT scores have enhanced that effect.
“We took a nice big jump this year,” he said. “The issue for us is in maintaining it.
“We walk around and [run into] people [who] say, ‘I am here because you were listed 30th in Newsweek, and that is why we are moving here.’
“I am not going to say that does not put pressure on you. But it’s a good problem to have,” he said. “This is what people should think about when they think of a good public high school.
“We are anxious to see something come our way in our part of the county.”