PWCS Expects to Push Back Opening of 13th HS

| January 3, 2016 | 0 Comments | Education
Possible sites for Prince William County Schools' 13th high school. Credit: PWCS Planning and Facilities Services.

Possible sites for Prince William County Schools’ 13th high school. Credit: PWCS Planning and Facilities Services.

Prince William County Schools does not expect the 13th High School will be able to remain on schedule to open in September of 2020.

The school intended to relieve Patriot, Battlefield and Stonewall Jackson high schools might again have its start date pushed back a year.

Construction Time

While Brentsville School Board representative Gil Trenum, told Bristow Beat that he was hopeful the school could stay on track to open by September of 2020, a school division official said that is unlikely.

David Cline, Associate Superintendent of Finance and Planning for PWCS, explained there is no plan to expedite construction of the high school whereas construction time for Prince William high schools is approximately five years.

“The schedule utilized by Prince William County Schools for the construction of a high school provides sufficient time to site develop, design, construct and furnish the high school and prepare for the arrival of students,” Cline said.

Reducing the amount of time provided in a construction contract would likely lead to increased in construction costs, said Cline. And, if the school division were to expedite the construction process, it would have to assume the risk that the school may not open on schedule.

Finding a Site: Stone Haven

One significant impediment to the school opening on time is that Prince William County Schools has yet to finalize a location for their new high school in the Brentsville District.

Stone Haven had proffered a site, but the applicant withdrew its land use application back in early December, believing the Stone Haven did not have the necessary votes to win board approval.

One good piece of news, said Cline, is that Stone Haven can now be purchased,  “subject to negotiation with the applicant.” Previously, the school division had to wait for a board vote to move forward on acquiring land for the school.

Finding a Site: Rollins Ford

Not wanting Stone Haven to be the school division’s only option, Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, working with Trenum, Gainesville’s Supervisor Pete Candland and school board member Alyson Satterwhite, in August, proposed  proposed swapping the Rollins Ford Park site with another county site; thereby making Rollins Ford the new school site.

However, the Rollins Ford site came with limitations and challenges. One, according to Cline, is a deed restriction controlled by a third party. The other is the size. The Rollins Ford site is also only 69 acres, approximately 10 acres too small, thus limiting the playing fields it could provide with the school.

Other Sites

Cline told Bristow Beat that throughout the process, the school division has considered a number of sites; they have not been made public as announcing them could possibly affect land values.

Overcrowding in Western Prince William High Schools

The 13th high school is intended to reduce overcrowding at Patriot High School, Battlefield High School and possibly Stonewall Jackson High School. Delaying the opening of the school could have a significant impact on the already overcrowded facilities.

According to Prince William County‘s office of facility services’ student data and projected enrollments, Patriot High School currently serves 769 students above its capacity. Battlefield’s population is also above capacity and is expected to dramatically increase so that the school will have 957 excess students by 2020. When schools are overcrowded, students take classes in learning cottages or trailers located outside the main building.

Cost of Construction

Although the bond for the 13th high school is $124 million, Cline said there is no intention nor desire to build a pool in the 13th high school.

The bond amount is sufficient to cover project costs envisioned in the current CIP (Capital Improvement Plan). The CIP Construction Costs include architectural and engineering services, permits and plan review, the construction contract, furnishings and equipment, and other costs outside the construction contract. Both the Superintendent and Chairman At-Large have repeatedly stated that no new pools are planned.

 

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