Board to consider expanding Manassas Park High School

It’s only been a little over three years since students began attending classes at Manassas Park High School.

And yet an explosion in the student population’s size has already left the building bursting at the seams.

Manassas Park City Council is holding a public hearing tonight on whether to issue $7 million in bonds to expand the local high school.

Thomas DeBolt, superintendent of Manassas Park schools, says the building, capable of holding 650 students, will have 630 students next year, well above the optimum level of 560.

And the number of students is predicted to go up to 750 to 775 students by the 2004-2005 school year.

The proposed expansion would add about 39,000 extra square feet to the 103,000-square-foot building. The 15 exterior classrooms created would allow the building to hold up to 950 students.

The present building’s key facilities — the gymnasium, the kitchen, the heating and cooling systems — are already capable of serving a larger high school with more students.

That’s because the City Council had a possible expansion in mind when it approved plans for the high school in 1996.

The council thought an expansion would be needed by 2003 or 2004. And yet the growth in the number of students in the community has outstripped predictions.

Vice Mayor Kevin Brendel attributes the spike in student population to a more rapid filling-out of Blooms Crossing.

DeBolt says City Council approval of the bond notes would allow construction of the new wing to begin May of next year. The new classrooms would be available by August 2004.

Until then, the school district has already made moves to deal with overpopulation at the high school. Next year, seven courses, rather than eight courses, will be available to seniors.

More substantial measures will have to be taken for the 2003-2004 school year, according to DeBolt.

“In the age of SOLs it’s bad to limit choices,” he said.

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