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School Board Speaks Up

Several Fairfax County School Board members expressed their concern and frustration with the Board of Supervisors for suggesting the sale of the Lorton School building may provide funding for the construction of a South County Middle School. They point to other construction projects already on the county's to-do list.

"There is a queue. We develop it. You have to wait your turn," said Board member Judith "Tessie" Wilson (Braddock).

School Board Superintendent Jack Dale said none of his staff had been notified of the proposed sale "until they read about it in the newspapers" after the Oct. 17 Board of Supervisors meeting.

School Board member Stuart Gibson (Hunter Mill) said this wasn't the first time the Board of Supervisors has become involved in School Board matters. "This isn't even the first time this year," he said.

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors threatened to delay the school bond referendum unless money for BRAC considerations was included; the School Board added $2 million for that purpose.

Following conversations with Dean Tistadt, assistant superintendent of facilities and transportation services, Board member Daniel Storck (Mount Vernon) said he is aware that the transportation office needs a facility that better meets its needs. "The fact that the Lorton School site could be made better use of is a good idea," said Storck said, but any decisions regarding the Lorton School building are for the School Board to make.

The decision made by Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) to bring the discussion to the Board of Supervisors meeting was "not an attempt to push the School Board in one direction or another," but "putting the pieces together so it could be discussed," Storck said.

As for the suggestion that any surplus money from the sale of the Lorton School building be directed toward the middle school, Storck said some on School Board felt the Board of Supervisors was "trying to tell us what to do. I didn't see it that way, they were just conveying a need."

Storck said he can understand the frustrations of residents in the Laurel Hill area, which for so long served as a "dumping ground" for the rest of the county.

"People want to reap some of the rewards and benefits of what this place has to offer," Storck said. "I think that's essential."