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Board Members Advocate Moving Up Construction of 13th High School

| November 21, 2012 | 0 Comments | Education

Gil Trenum is interested in moving up the date for the construction of the new Western Prince William County high school.

Brentsville District Representative Gil Trenum proposed expediting the construction of the 13th high school from 2019 to 2017, saying that it would to provide much needed relief to the Brentsville and Gainesville districts.

A non-televised work session of the Prince William County School Board late Tuesday evening was called by Trenum to discuss rearranging the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the next seven years to address the overcrowding at Patriot and Battlefield high schools.

Both schools are currently over their capacity, and they are expected to become more severely overcrowded in the coming years based solely upon student estimates.

“In regards to overcrowding, not just in the Brentsville District, but in the Gainesville District, we have some substantial crowding issues on the western end of the county. I don’t think we can just fix them with boundary changes” said Trenum. “I just don’t think we can move 500 out of Battlefield, 900 out of Patriot and almost 300 out of Stonewall.”

While Trenum said 6-10 trailers might be reasonable to place at a school, 30, which the schools are expected to need in coming years, are not.

However, according to Trenum, pushing ahead the building of the 13th school would have a positive impact on the entire county, since piggy-backing a new school on the opening of the 12th high school in mid-county would make it easier to redraw districts.

Acknowledging that almost everyone hates redistricting, Trenum asked, “To build a high school in 2016 and a high school in 2019, we’re going to have to do massive shifts. Is there any way we can basically look at doing one set of boundary changes? It’s not optimal, but parents can deal with a non optimal situation when they know there’s a plan.”

Chairman-At-Large Milt Johns supported Trenum’s proposal, saying, “Growth continues to happen on the western end of the county. That’s where we still have over stressed schools. I like having a one-time county-wide boundary adjustment, so all 400,000 people can focus their anger on us at one time.”

School Board member for the Gainesville District, Alyson Satterwhite, agreed with Trenum that something needs to be done to help Battlefield and Patriot deal with overcrowding. She said if building the new high school in 2017 is not the solution, something would still need to be done at accommodate those students such as building annexes.

However, Board members from the eastern end of the county questioned whether moving up the new high school would be equitable, especially since so many new schools, including Patriot and Battlefield, have already been built in western Prince William County.

They voiced their concern that their citizens already feel as though the western end of the county had schools resembling, “Taj Mahals,” while most older eastern schools were neither updated with new facilities nor the latest technology found.

“We need to be mindful that there is a perception out there that the bells and whistles, we find them on the western side of the county,” Coles District Reprentative Dr. Michael Otaigbe said.

In addition, eastern county board members recognized that building another $100 million high school would delay many of their projects to build new elementary and middle schools, as well as updating their older high schools.

New Occoquan Board member Lillie Jessie, a former school principal, questioned when reducing class sizes would become a priority. She also alluded to rumors that one of the new schools would have a “swimming pool” as an example of over spending.

Potomac District Board Representative Betty Covington acknowledged that new schools should be modern facilities; however, older schools require updating as well.

Though School Board members continued to refer to the economic troubles in the county, Associate Superintendent for Finance & Support Services Dave Cline pointed out that Prince William County was faring much better than the majority of the nation and are Prince William County residents in favor of building new schools?

The matter was ultimately not decided late Tuesday evening, but the issue is on the agenda to be discussed at a second work session scheduled for December.

 

© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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