Prince William County School Board passed an $1.6 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018, assuring the PRICE model for the new high school.
Although the board voted upon it several times before, Wednesday, Mar. 15, the PRICE [Patriot Redesign Increasing Capacity Efficiently] model for the 13th high school to be built in the Brentsville District has been guaranteed with the passing of the PWCS Fiscal Year 18 budget.
The PRICE model is a hybrid of the Patriot High School model. The addition of second-floor classrooms will allow the school to accommodate approximately 500 more students than Patriot High School, bringing the total capacity to 2,557 students.
For the purpose of cost savings, the new school will have fewer purely aesthetic flourishes than Patriot and Colgan high schools. It remains a modern school with much natural light. Other significant features of the building include larger classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and a large auditorium.
A pledge from the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to pay $10.6 million in debt services on the school helped fund the difference between the Battlefield and PRICE models. Another $10.6 was given for elementary school on the eastern side of the county.
The model was approved following a new location proposed for the high school, which is adjacent to Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow. The new location provides cost savings on road extensions. A new fitness center has proffered the extension of Wentworth Green Drive, which will become a four-lane road and access point to the new school.
Although the PRICE model was approved by the board in a five to three vote at a special meeting, Jan. 4, the decision was not settled.
Prince William School Board Chairman At-large Ryan Sawyers was uncomfortable with the manner in which the resolution was passed, and thus, on Jan. 18, called for a vote to rescind the special meeting. It passed in a vote of four to three. Sawyers, Lillie Jessie (Occoquan), Justin Wilk (Potomac) and Loree Williams (Woodbridge) voted to overrule the meeting.
Wilk remained in support of the school, although he had his concerns about the special meeting.
That vote was mired in controversy since Gainesville School Board member Alyson Satterwhite was absent from the Jan. 18 meeting as she was recovering from surgery. She maintains that the vote was legal according to Virginia Code.
Sawyers said the supervisor’s CIP money may be approved during the normal budget process, but some school board members wondered if that meant the money would be used for its intended purpose. The PRICE model ultimately was approved within the regular budget process as Sawyers had recommended.
According to school board members Justin Wilk (Potomac) and Sean Brann (Brentsville-Acting), there was no dispute over the model at the school board’s markup meetings.
At a 13th high school information meeting, Dave Beavers, Supervisors of Finance and Planning, said the school will open on time in September or August of 2021.
At the Mar. 15 school board meeting, there was no discussion of the 13th high school. The discussion was focused on whether or not to place school nurses on professional salary steps like teachers. That motion failed as the majority of board members in attendance wanted more research done on the best way to go about making the transition.
Chairman Sawyers was absent for that meeting.
In a Prince William Times article, Vice Chairwoman Jessie said there was not enough equity in the Comprehensive Plan in regards to buildings on the eastern side of the county where young children are in learning trailers.
On her Facebook page, Satterwhite responded that “before the 13th high school opens in 2021 with 2500 seats, there will be approximately 4500 elementary school student spaces added in the east end of the county. Those are facts, not opinions.”
The final budget is contingent on county funding as determined by the board of county supervisors.
© 2017, Stacy Shaw. All rights reserved.