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Votes

New Elementary School, Additions and Renovations

With western Fairfax County continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, it's no surprise that the population increase has a significant effect on the local schools. As a result, some are receiving additions, a new one will be built and still others are being renovated.

Included in the November 2003 countywide school bond for $290.6 million total was $1.3 million in planning money for a new, western Fairfax elementary school, $2.6 million for a 14-room modular addition at Chantilly High and $8.7 million for a 24-room, brick-and-mortar addition to Westfield High.

* THE NEW elementary school will be needed mainly to relieve Centreville's newest school, Colin Powell Elementary, which just opened last September. Greenbriar East and West elementaries, or Willow Springs Elementary, may also possibly benefit from this school, although Powell is currently the main target.

It's planned for construction on Deming Drive, near the county Government Center and will have 36 classrooms. The site was dedicated to the county for a school as part of land rezoning in the Fairfax Center area of the Springfield District.

Cost for construction, equipment and furnishings is estimated at $19 million, and the new elementary would open in September 2007. The bond money enabled the school system to begin engineering and initial design, plus architectural work, for this school.

* CHANTILLY has a building capacity of 2,250 students. But as of July 22, some 2,723 students were already enrolled — and the school's addition won't become a reality until the 2005 school year. When it does happen, the new trailers will replace some of the older ones — including some that are 20 years old, aren't in good shape and require a great deal of maintenance.

"[The addition] won't actually abut the school, so it'll have a covered walkway between it and the building," said Gary Chevalier, director of Fairfax County Public Schools' Facilities Planning Services. "It's like bringing in another hallway, with classrooms on either side, and bathroom facilities — except it's prefab."

* Westfield's building capacity was originally 2,500 students, and renovations within the school's first two years brought it to about 2,625. Fortunately, though, it was designed with an eye toward a future addition and, with a current enrollment of 3,145 student bodies, it can't come too soon.

It's planned for completion during the 2005-06 school year. Besides more classrooms, the two-story addition will also contain locker bays and bathrooms, and the cafeteria would get another exit. (The addition would connect to the existing building in the cafeteria area, with a hallway).

* RENOVATIONS: In the realm of renovations, Greenbriar East Elementary (GBE) and Greenbriar West Elementary (GBW) are getting major makeovers. GBE was built in 1967 and added a gym and music room in 1986. GBW was built in the early 1970s. But since time and technology have significantly marched on since then, both schools were in serious need of renovations.

The work was funded in the 2001 school-bond referendum — $10.3 million for GBE and $13.9 million for GBW. And GBW's project even includes an eight-classroom, brick-and-mortar addition.

"The schools will be beautiful when they're finished," said Chevalier. "Our maintenance people do a terrific job, but these schools are dated and their systems need to be brought up to today's standards."

Both GBE and GBW will be completely renovated, and all their mechanical systems will be modernized. That includes air conditioning, heating, lighting, plumbing and electricity. There'll be state-of-the-art computer-networking equipment and either new or refinished floors.

"It's as close to building a new school as you can come, without getting a new one," said Chevalier. Whatever provisions are needed to accommodate special programs will also be accomplished, as well as everything required by state and county educational specifications — which, said Chevalier, have "changed pretty significantly since these schools were built."

Work at GBE is about at the halfway point and should be completed in time for the 2005 school year. As for GBW, work there is expected to begin during the 2004-05 school year and be finished by September 2006.