They know it would be a big ask, but Loudoun County School Board members want to accelerate the construction of a desperately needed Dulles South high school by one year.
The board is scheduled Tuesday to adopt its Capital Improvement Program, which outlines the school system’s construction priorities over the next six years. From there, the program is sent to the Board of Supervisors as an official funding request.
Right now, the high school, called HS-9, is scheduled to open on land just south of Braddock Road in 2021. Under that plan, $11.76 million in design costs would be funded in fiscal year 2018 and the $118.9 million construction bill would be paid for in fiscal year 2019.
But School Board members said during a work session Tuesday that they may ask supervisors to fund the project a year earlier so it can open in 2020 and provide much needed relief to at John Champe High School, which is on track to enroll 930 students more than its building capacity by 2020.
If HS-9 opened in 2020, it would allow students’ school assignments in that area to be stabilized one year earlier. The School Board is two weeks away from adopting new secondary attendance assignments for the Dulles area, and to handle the higher-than-expected enrollment, members plan to open the middle school (so called MS-7) as an intermediate school, housing grades eight and nine, while John Champe High School houses grades 10 through 12. An accelerated HS-9 would mean one less year of the intermediate school option.
Hornberger acknowledged that it might be tough for supervisors to squeeze the $130.66 million request into fiscal year 2018, which also includes a request for $37.9 million to fund a Dulles North elementary school (ES-31), but the School Board could at least log the request.
“We’re signaling to them that we would prefer to have that school a year sooner,” he said, and noted that supervisors have indicated to him that they would support fas tracking the high school.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) said he may propose an amendment to the superintendent’s proposed CIP to accelerate the request for artificial turf fields, depending what year the high school request ultimately falls. Four of the county’s 15 public high schools do not yet have synthetic turf fields: Dominion High School in Sterling, Heritage in Leesburg, Freedom in Chantilly, and Briar Woods in Ashburn.
The School Board is scheduled to adopt a final CIP at its regular board meeting Tuesday evening.