In an unusual move, the county government and school system together will purchase 151.5 acres to be the home of Loudoun’s next high school and, possibly, next public park.
After a couple of closed session meetings in recent weeks, the School Board and the Board of Supervisors have agreed to serve as co-tenants of the Hovatter Farms property. It sits just south of Braddock Road south of the Willowsford subdivision, at 25077 Lightridge Farm Road. Once the $10 million purchase is complete, the property will be split, with the school system receiving enough land for the high school (HS-9) and an elementary school, and the county government taking control of roughly 30 acres to build a park or some other public facility. The property is assessed at $4 million in the county’s tax records.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said the agreement is an opportunity for the schools and county to work together to provide much-needed schools and amenities to residents in the fast-growing, southern end of the county.
“This is a little bit of a unique situation in that the schools came to the Board of Supervisors with a parcel that is much larger than what they need to build a high school. We discussed adding an elementary school, but there’s still in the neighborhood of 30 acres remaining,” he said. “Certainly, we’re always looking for opportunities to acquire land to build athletic fields, and this parcel may afford us that opportunity, or some other county use.”
The contract is being signed this week, according to the county staff.
Letourneau said the Board of Supervisors is also prepared to provide $3.5 million a year early to the school system to fast-track the construction of HS-9, following a recommendation from the board’s finance committee at its Dec. 13 meeting. The high school was originally slated to open in 2021, but the Dulles South schools are severely overcrowded.
Even with HS-9 opening in 2020, the School Board has had to get creative to find enough seats for middle and high school students until then. Earlier this month, the board voted to operate the middle school (MS-7), set to open in 2018, will as an intermediate school, housing grades eight and nine, while sixth and seventh graders attend Mercer Middle School, and 10th through 12th graders attend John Champe High School.
Accelerating HS-9 to open in 2020 will mean the intermediate option will be used for two years instead of three.