An addition to South Lakes High School, renovations at Herndon High School and a redistricting of some of Reston’s elementary schools are among the plans for Fairfax County Public Schools Area 1 in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the Fiscal Years 2016-2020.
FCPS plans out where improvement money will be spent in five-year cycles. FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza will discuss the next cycle with the school board at a meeting Thursday. There will be public hearing on Jan. 6, and the school board will vote on the five-year CIP on Jan. 22.
Garza said the school system, which has grown by about 2,000 students annually the last several years, continues “to contend with growing enrollment and limited capital funding.”
“This version of the CIP includes potential capacity and capital solutions to schools which are currently or projected to be over capacity. The intent of the solutions was to provide relief through surplus capacity at adjacent facilities as well as taking advantage of projects which have already been identified in previous CIPs.”
Garza said FCPS has grown by about 22,000 students since 2006 and may have as many as 198,000 students by 2019-20. Growing Hispanic and Asian student populations have comprised a large part of the increasing enrollment within FCPS, she said.
However, FCPS may be past its growth peak for elementary schools, says Garza. Kindergarten enrollment for 2014-15 is actually down for the first time since 2007-08.
“For the first time since before the most recent growth began (the 2007-08 school year), Kindergarten totals have dropped for the 2014-15 school year,” Garza said in a report to the school board.
This is coupled with an overall reduction trend of students in grades one through seven, in 2013-14 and 2014-15. FCPS may be nearing or have passed a relative enrollment peak in the early elementary grades.
However, due to cumulative growth in elementary schools since the 2007-08 school year, middle and high school enrollments are experiencing growth. The Spring 2014 enrollment projections show continued growth in total enrollments well beyond the 2019-20 school year, with much of the growth occurring in middle and high school levels.
The current and anticipated enrollment increases continue to present a major challenge as the school system struggles to provide sufficient capacity in our schools. Despite the planned additional capacity intended to address projected needs, uneven enrollment growth throughout the county will necessitate the continuation of small and large scale boundary adjustments to take advantage of available capacity whenever it is practicable to do so.
Fairfax County voters approved a $250 million school bond referendum in 2013. That money will help pay for county wide renovations, but some of the planned projects remain unfunded, including the need for a new elementary school in this part of the county.
Funding for capital improvement projects is currently limited by a $155 million yearly cap on school bond sales. Garza said that providing the additional new schools and capacity enhancements required to accommodate enrollment growth will cause delays in the schedule of many future renovation projects.
The project costs for FY2016-FY2020 cycle total approximately $856 million, or roughly$171 million per year, Garza said in the report. There are $636 million in unfunded projects, however, a future bond referendum may be able to cover come of those costs, she said.
Suggestions and plans for Area 1 (Herndon and Reston) include:
- Aldrin and Armstrong ES: Reassign the Advanced Academic (AAP) students residing within the Aldrin ES and Armstrong ES attendance areas from Forest Edge ES AAP Center to the already existing Clearview ES AAP Center upon completion of the renovation.
- Dogwood ES: Reassign students to other South Lakes HS Pyramid elementary schools which have sufficient capacity such as Terraset ES and/or Sunrise Valley ES. Upon completion of their renovations, Terraset ES will have a capacity of 800 and Sunrise Valley ES will have a capacity of 750 in the 2016-17 school year.
- Hughes MS: Renovation and capacity enhancement to be completed in the 10-year CIP cycle.
- Herndon MS: Capacity deficit accommodated with temporary facilities or interior architectural modifications.
- South Lakes HS: At the conclusion of the capacity enhancement, the school will have a capacity of 2,700 students in the 2018-19 school year.
- Herndon HS is predicted to be at 114 percent capacity, among the highest in the county, by 2019-20. Herndon will undergo renovation that will increase capacity to 2,500 students.
- New High School: Construct a new high school in the western end of the Silver Line Metro vicinity. This solution will involve multiple boundary adjustments to the schools in the western portion of the county, taking some of the overpopulation away from Herndon and South Lakes High Schools.