Local Nokesville citizen and mom of three, Zara Tirrell, has created a counter petition, advising the Prince William County School Board build the Nokesville K to 8 School as originally planned.
The petition is in direct response to a petition asking School Board members to vote to delay construction bids on the Nokesville K to 8 School, which it deems expensive and wrong for the needs of students in the Brentsville District. That petition was created by CARE PWC member Tracy Conroy and posted on her Our Schools Facebook page.
The counter petition e-document begins by outlining the need to replace the current Nokesville Elementary School, which was built over 70 years ago, and thus and suffers from the expected maladies plaguing a school of that age coupled with a shortage of space needed for the requirements of modern educational practices.
The petition lists such maladies: classrooms of an inadequate size; insufficient electrical outlets; and a substandard gymnasium, cafeteria, nurse’s office and hallways. In addition it states that hot water is often times not available in the kitchen or bathrooms of the school, and the school infrastructure is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Prince Williams Schools, in responding to a series of questions asked by Bristow Beat, added other uneasily remedied issues afflicting Nokesville Elementary, such as insufficient bus drop off parking and kiss and ride spots.
The petition document goes on to explain the condition of overcrowding at Marsteller Middle School, and asserts that the new K to 8 School would remedy both these concerns.
“By 2018, Marsteller’s enrollment will have risen to 1,745 students, which is 42 percent over capacity,” states the petition. “Building a K-8 school with 600 elementary seats, 300 middle school seats and 48 special ed seats, will give our community a new elementary school, and desperately needed additional middle school seats.”
Tirrell did not dispute one point made by her opposition, that even with the building of the Nokesville K to 8 projections show students will still be in trailers by 2018; rather she emphasized the positive relief the K to 8 School would offer.
“Nokesville K to 8 offers a permanent 300 seat relief,” Tirrell said in a phone interview. “There is nothing band-aid about that.”
As of this year, Marsteller Middle School currently has five classroom modulars, sometimes called trailers or learning cottages and an enrollment of 1,596; although its capacity is 1,233.
So while the Nokesville K to 8 will not rectify all future problems of overcrowding in Brentsville District Middle Schools, Tirrell believes it is a step in the right direction. Moreover it is progress the School Board can green-light immediately.
“We have an opportunity to do something now. We’ve planned on doing something now,” said Tirrell, who explains that it takes years for a school to go from conception to opening.
If Nokesville Elementary is scrapped by the School Board, Tirrell said she expects another school will not take its place until 2018, which is one reason why she does not agree with waiting for possible elementary and middle schools on the Avendale or other sites. (Prince William County Schools has also listed a “West Linton Hall Middle School” for 2018 on its Capital Improvement Plans.)
Furthermore, Tirrell argues that Nokesville community members like the idea of a K to 8 School, where she believes children can stay children longer.
Noting the issues with the current Nokesville Elementary School, School Board member, Gil Trenum, supported the plan to build a new school, rather than subjecting the county to costly renovations. He expressed this sentiment in an email to Bristow Beat on May 1, 2012.
“Back in 2008 the school administration recommended that a new school be built instead of renovating and expanding the existing structure due to concerns about putting a lot of money into a building that is over 70 years old with 70-plus year old pipes and other infrastructure,” Trenum stated.
Trenum goes on to say that without addressing the basic infrastructure of the building, Nokesville Elementary School would be unable to provide an “equitable teaching environment.”
He notes a similar situation ,which existed at the old Yorkshire Elementary School, which was found to have eroded sewer pipes.
He also defended the decision to build a K to 8, rather than the originally proposed elementary school.
“The K-8 model was chosen as it kept the elementary school size that would have come with the expanded elementary school and had the added benefit of bringing in 300 middle school seats that would provide needed overcrowding relief to Marsteller Middle School, which will once again be the most overcrowded middle school in the county once Reagan Middle in Haymarket opens this fall.”
Proponents of the Nokesville K to 8 School have also cited the use of well water as an insufficient reason to not build in the Nokesville location, on site of Brentsville District High School, noting the quality of the well water and the lack of issues with water at the high school.
However, while the new petition praises the proposed school, it does not address the likely need to bus in Bristow students to fill seats unfilled by Nokesville students.
Tirrell also said she agreed with Our Schools on some of their issues and looks forward to working with them in the future on those issue.
Readers are invited to visit and review the pr0- Nokesville K to 8 School petition.
© 2012, Copyright 2013 Bristow Beat LLC. All rights reserved.