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Tuesday, June 22, 2021
ArlingtonEducationSupervisors seek $360M school-bond referendum for fall

Supervisors seek $360M school-bond referendum for fall

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If Fairfax County residents in November continue their longstanding trend of passing school-bond referendums, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will have an additional $360 million to put toward capital improvements.

The Board of Supervisors on June 8 unanimously adopted a resolution favoring a school-bond referendum on Nov. 2, and directed the county attorney to petition the Circuit Court to order it.

County staff on July 27 will present supervisors with a “plain language statement” explaining the referendum. Fairfax County’s general registrar and Office of Elections subsequently will prepare ballots for voters in time for the start of absentee voting on Sept. 18.

The ballot will be phrased generally, but county officials tentatively have identified 17 projects as beneficiaries of the likely future bond proceeds.
FCPS officials have targeted $202 million for renovations at 12 elementary schools.

Officials aim to use bond funds to finance construction at these elementary schools: Wakefield Forest ($30 million), Louise Archer ($37 million), Crossfield ($31 million), Mosby Woods (soon to become “Mosaic” in the current name-changing era) ($38 million) and Bonnie Brae ($38 million).

FCPS leaders would allot $4 million each to Bren Mar Park, Brookfield, Lees Corner, Armstrong, Willow Springs, Herndon and Dranesville elementary schools for planning and design work.

The school system also hopes to spend $130 million for construction at Falls Church High School, $12 million for planning and design work at Centreville High School and $13.5 million for site acquisition for a future Western High School.

All those projects add up to $357.5 million, and the remaining $2.5 million of the total will cover the costs of the bond itself.

The Board of Supervisors formerly allotted FCPS $155 million per year for bond sales, but starting in fiscal 2019 boosted that amount to $180 million per annum, said Chairman Jeff McKay (D).

“I think [it] is a quantum leap ahead of where we were before,” he said. “Frankly, if you look at the backlog of school-renovation needs [and] expansion-and-capacity needs, it was the right thing to do to bump that up.”

Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) especially was pleased about proposed major renovations at Falls Church High School, which she said she has sought for years.

Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence), who formerly served on the county’s School Board, said Falls Church High is the county’s last “legacy” high school.

“It still needs a sprinkler system,” she said.

School upgrades are important because those facilities are not used only for educating children, Palchik said.

“They are used 17 hours a day for community use, for [homeowner association] meetings and for community meetings,” she said. “They really are the heart of many of our communities and used very lovingly.”

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