South Lakes Renovation Moves Ahead

South Lakes Renovation Moves Ahead

G. Ridgley Loux's daughter recently took her PSAT in the auto techroom of South Lakes High School, essentially a garage.

"It was the only place to take the test," said the elder Loux.

Loux was one of dozens of parents to talk to the Fairfax County School Board last Thursday, Jan. 15 about the school system's Capital Improvement Program.

Over the course of the next six years (FY 2005-09), South Lakes High School is promised the estimated $57,311,000 it will take to complete renovations to the school. This year's CIP moves the completion of South Lake's renovation up one year to fiscal year 2008 instead of 2009.

"We were the last school in the county to employ the discredited open-design concept; we were designed and constructed during a time of severe budget limitations …," Loux said to the School Board, "so we were designed and built on the cheap, with no classrooms and no windows, but lots of open space."

South Lakes, which has 1,625 students, is scheduled to receive $13,262,000 in FY 2005, $30,386,400 in FY06 and $12,073,400 in FY07.

Parents worried that the School Board might be tempted to bump South Lakes’ renovation behind schools that are overcrowded because South Lakes is underenrolled.

After studying the school for nearly a year, architects, according to Loux, "essentially started over in the same footprint, keeping only the gymnasium but basically redoing the entire interior of the school."

The school has construction funds from a 1999 bond referendum and under the proposed CIP, which Loux supports, the school will be able to complete renovations ahead of the schedule set in last year's CIP, he said.

Currently, the school has been forced to "jury-rig solutions to our design flaws," Loux said, by partitioning areas to make classrooms, by using folding panels as classroom doors and by having to endure "temperature roulette" since environmental conditions vary from classroom to classroom and from one section of the school to the next.

Under the proposed CIP, the project start date for additions to Langston Hughes Middle School has been delayed two years, moved back from FY 2004 to 2006.

The School Board is scheduled to hold its Regular Meeting No. 12 on the Capital Improvement Program this Thursday, Jan. 22 at Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, at 7:30 p.m.

The School Board is scheduled to adopt its final budget on May 27.

<1b>— Ken Moore