While the rest of Fairfax County hunkered down in preparation for Winter Storm Jonas’ Friday arrival, members of the School Board held their business meeting as scheduled on Jan. 21 and approved a five-year Capital Improvement Plan requiring $777 million.
Applying to Fiscal Year 2017 through 2021, the plan supports four new elementary schools and one new high school, as well as “capacity enhancements” and renovations for existing schools.
The school system has been growing by around 2,400 students each year since the 2009-2010 school year, according to a release from Fairfax County Public Schools. The Capital Improvement Plan figures a total system population reaching roughly 189,000 students by the 2020-2021 school year.
“The school system struggles to provide sufficient capacity in our schools,” Superintendent Karen Garza said in a letter accompanying a presentation of the plan. “Despite the planned additional capacity intended to address projected needs, uneven enrollment growth throughout the county will necessitate the continuation of small- and large-scale boundary adjustments to take advantage of available capacity whenever it is practicable to do so.”
Funding for a portion of the plan’s requirement has already been approved in the 2015 School Bond Referendum and other earlier referenda, about $429 million worth.
Projects already covered under that funding include:
Gym at Bailey’s Upper Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences
New elementary school in the Route 1 corridor to help with overcrowding in the Groveton-Hybla Valley area
Expansion and renovation of Fort Belvoir Elementary School
Additions to South Lakes High School and Westbriar Elementary School
Three modular addition relocations
“This CIP addresses some of our critical needs and will help relieve crowding in some of our existing schools,” said Pat Hynes, School Board chairman.
“We are particularly challenged by growth in certain areas of the county and higher growth rates among middle and high school students, requiring us to examine a variety of solutions, including temporary classrooms, modular additions and boundary adjustments. Any boundary adjustments would be discussed and decided with considerable input from the community.”
That leaves $347 million of the plan unfunded. Advertised projects without funding currently include:
Construction of a new elementary school in the northwest area of Fairfax County
Elementary school in the Fairfax-Oakton area
High school by the end of Metro Silver Line, on the west end of the county
Additions to two high schools and one middle school
One modular addition relocation.
More details about the Fairfax County Public Schools Capital Improvement Program are available online at www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/cip.shtml.