0
Votes

Additions, Relief Underway for Westfield High

With western Fairfax County continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, the population increase has a dramatic effect on the local schools. As a result, the local area's newest high school is already overcrowded and plans for another one are in the works.

* Westfield High School has only been open for six years, and it's long been the largest high school, in terms of number of students, in the state of Virginia.

Luckily, though, included in the November 2003 countywide school bond was $8.7 million for a 24-room, brick-and-mortar addition to the school. And it's slated for completion by the start of this school year.

Westfield's building capacity was originally 2,500 students, and renovations within the school's first two years brought it to about 2,625. But enrollment kept growing and, in September, it's projected to have 3,244 students. So the new, three-story addition will be finished just in the nick of time.

Besides more classrooms, it will also contain locker bays and bathrooms, and the cafeteria will get another exit. (The addition will connect to the existing building in the cafeteria area, with a hallway).

Construction began last summer, and the 30 new classrooms are expected to be finished by about January. They'll be in a previously open area between the cafeteria and the 'E' wing, behind the tennis courts.

* New high school: In January 2005, the School Board adopted its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal years 2006 through 2010, and it contains $75 million for a new high school for the western Fairfax County/Dulles area. However, Gary Chevalier, director of Facilities Planning Services for Fairfax County Public Schools, says this new school probably won't come on line until 2014-2015.

Meanwhile, though, some measure of relief for majorly overcrowded Westfield High may be on the horizon in the near future. With an eye toward easing overcrowding at Westfield — as well as at Centreville, Chantilly and Oakton high schools — in fall 2007, the School Board will reconsider the high-school attendance areas in western Fairfax County.

Since the South Lakes High renovations will be finished by then, the board could possibly shift students slated to attend the overcrowded high schools into newly added classroom space in the Reston-Herndon area. Whatever boundary changes are made wouldn't take effect until the 2008-09 school year.