County plans for 15 schools

Over the next 10 years, Prince William County school officials plan to open 15 more schools, according to the division’:s proposed Capital Improvements Program.

The rolling plan outlines building projects and renovations from 2004 to 2013, with a proposed cost of about $318.9 million for one traditional school, three high schools, eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two additions to elementary schools and one transportation center. The traditional school will be similar to the county’:s school of choice in Manassas, Pennington School.

Construction projects are funded by Virginia Public School Authority Bonds, approved by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in April.

“If the kids are coming as we think they are, we have to build those buildings,” said Robert Ferrebee, associate superintendent of management, who helped to draft the division’:s proposals.

Student membership is expected to increase 28 percent from 60,223 to 77,271 students by 2013, according to the division’:s plan.

Half of the schools in the county are over capacity, 43 percent are at capacity and 7 percent are under capacity, When a school is at full capacity, it fills more than 100 percent available space, Ferrebee said.

As English As a Second Language and special education programs continue to grow, requiring about a 1-10 teacher-to-student ratio, there is a higher need for classroom space to facilitate smaller ratios, Ferrebee said.

The biggest year for new buildings is 2004, including two new high schools currently under construction.

In the eastern part of the county, a high school is being built near Neabsco Mills. Another high school is being built on the western part of the county near Long Park. Boundary plans for both schools were approved by the Prince William County School Board over the summer.

Both buildings are about 35 percent complete with roofs in place, said George Pincince, supervisor of facilities planning.

Building two new high schools in the eastern and western parts of the county will fix the growing need for high school space up to 2012, Ferrebee said.

Also in 2004, a traditional school will be built off Blackburn Road and a transportation center will be built off Va. 234. Bristow Run Elementary School will receive an additional eight classrooms. Construction will begin in March or April 2003 for these projects, Pincince said.

In 2005, an elementary school is scheduled to be built in the Linton Hall area of the county. In 2006, an elementary school in the eastern part of the county and middle school in Four Year Trail are scheduled. In 2008, an elementary school with a location to be determined, a middle school in the western part of the county and an addition to Bel Air Elementary School are scheduled.

An elementary school in 2009 and elementary, middle and high schools in 2011 are all being built with locations unknown. For the schools without a set location, Ferrebee said, “We know we’:re going to need one in a general area but we don’:t want to get site-specific.”

It takes about three years to build a high school, two years for a middle school and a year to 16 months to build an elementary school, Pincince said.

While construction projects are under way, other buildings still need to be renovated.

Building renovations include replacing mechanical and electrical systems, ceiling tiles, roofs and repainting the building.

The division has estimated $225.8 million in building repairs and renewal costs to schools across the county.

Roger Dallek, Gar-Field High School principal, said the school has been over capacity for the past four to five years.

Dallek looks forward to a renovation project for Gar-Field in 2004. The project will renovate the building’:s foreign language, language arts, math and social studies departments.

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