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Fairfax County School Board OKs Capital Improvement Program

The FY 2015-19 CIP includes new schools, capacity enhancements, renovations, and infrastructure management over five years totaling $866 million, or roughly $173 million per year.

Springfield District Representative  Elizabeth Schultz speaks at the school board meeting last week. Screen capture
Springfield District Representative Elizabeth Schultz speaks at the school board meeting last week. Screen capture

By Mary Ann Barton

The Fairfax County School Board voted to approve Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) FY 2015-19 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at its business meeting Thursday, according to a news release issued Friday.

The FY 2015-19 CIP includes new schools, capacity enhancements, renovations, and infrastructure management over five years totaling $866 million, or roughly $173 million per year; $416 million of which is currently funded with approved school bonds. Completion of projects as scheduled in this CIP will require a school bond referendum in 2015 and subsequent years. 

The Board amended the CIP to direct the Department of Facilities and Transportation Services to identify methods by which renovations could be completed sooner at the five FCPS legacy high schools—Langley, West Springfield, Herndon, Oakton, and Falls Church—and to provide options to the Board by July.  

Hunter Mill District School Board member Pat Hynes opposed the amendment, as did Sully District Board member Kathy Smith.

These schools were built in the 1960s and have not yet received complete renovations.The Board also amended the CIP to change the project listed in the High School Renovations category from “Renovation 1 School” to “Falls Church High School.”  Additionally, the Board approved a resolution to schedule a work session by April 30, to discuss the key policy issues associated with the CIP prior to the development of the FY 2016-20 CIP.

“As school membership continues to grow, we face a critical shortage of available classrooms and facilities,” says School Board Chair Ilryong Moon.  “We see approximately 3,000 new students each year, and are looking at continued enrollment growth over the next five years. Over the past five years, this growth has required an additional 130 classrooms annually to keep pace with enrollment growth.  However, we have not been able to meet those needs and have added only 74 classrooms per year.

“The Board is aware of the great need for updated facilities at the five legacy high schools,” adds Moon.  “We felt it was important to explore options that could enable us to speed up the renovations at those schools.” 

The FY 2015-19 CIP includes funding of $250 million from the 2013 school bond referendum recently approved by voters. These funds will allow the construction of two new elementary schools; capacity enhancements at one elementary school; renovations and capacity enhancements at nine elementary schools, one middle, and one high school; construction planning for one high school addition; renovation planning for eight elementary schools, one middle, and two high schools; and numerous infrastructure projects and site acquisition. 

The anticipated need for three additional elementary schools—in the Fairfax/Oakton area, Northwest Fairfax county area, and in Fort Belvoir (jointly funded with the Department of Defense)—also are reflected in the funding.

Funding for capital improvement projects is limited by a $155 million annual limit on school bond sales as determined by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Providing the additional new schools and capacity enhancements to address the enrollment growth will delay thescheduling of many future renovation projectsas funding is limited.

Details about the FY 2015-19 CIP are available online.

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