A “woo hoo” could be heard among the bystanders gathered for the School Board’s Finance and Facilities Committee this evening.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the full School Board request county funding to build a three classroom addition at Lucketts Elementary School. The decision comes after Lucketts parents and school staff attended School Board meetings for the past five months to ask for more space. They held signs and lined up to speak at the meetings, detailing just how crowded the 45-year-old building has gotten.
“This is our art class at Lucketts. It’s a cart,” parent Alice Arnold told committee members Tuesday. “As a teacher, it’s a little demeaning to teach from a cart.”
She said at this rate, her kindergartner will never get to experience an art or music classroom during her elementary years.
As the school’s enrollment reached 321—the building was designed to hold 297—the art and music classroom were converted to a kindergarten classroom, so the art and music teachers transport their supplies on carts. That means art and music take place in the general education classrooms, so grade-level teachers are left to spend their lunch and planning periods elsewhere. The teacher’s lounge is now used as a resource room where teachers give students remedial lessons, so teachers eat lunch on the stage in the gymnasium, while gym class is underway just beyond the stage curtain.
“We have left no stone unturned when it comes to space,” Lucketts Elementary Principal Carolyn Clement told Loudoun Now in April.
The plan being recommended by the Finance and Facilities Committee would add three classrooms, at a cost of $3.1 million. As part of that plan, the school’s kindergartners may be temporarily reassigned to Waterford Elementary School in the fall of 2018.
School Board Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) suggested that the board request fiscal year 2017 fund balance from the county Board of Supervisors. Supervisors had pressed School Board members to come up with a solution for Lucketts at a recent joint meeting of the two boards.
E. Leigh Burden, assistant superintendent of Financial Services, agreed that would be a good option. “It is a small amount, relatively speaking, and it would relieve pressure on the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) as well.”
If supervisors do not agree to earmark unspent fiscal year 2017 money for the project, the School Board will likely add the project to its Capital Improvement Program, which serves as a six-year road map for building projects.
But, Morse noted, if supervisors OK spending fund balance on Lucketts, that means the project could be wrapped up months earlier because the money would be available in January. “I’m in support of that,” he said.
The item will go before the full School Board at its Oct. 10 meeting.
Board Vice Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) and Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) also sit on the Facilities and Finance Committee. DeKenipp chairs the committee.