The $252.75 million school bond referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot doesn’t include any major projects for regular public schools in Annandale or the Mason District.
It would, however, provide more than $84.6 million for renovations at the aging Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. TJSST, in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, just outside Annandale, draws high-achieving students from the entire Northern Virginia region. The bond would increase the school’s size by 45 percent, from 265,000 to 385,000 square feet. If the bond is approved, construction would start in 2013 and could be completed as early as fall 2015.
The bond also would provide $899,000 for facilities planning at North Springfield Elementary, which is close to Annandale.
In all, the bond includes:
• nearly $13.7 million for “capacity enhancement,” including additions and other modifications at three elementary schools and the relocation of modular units;
• nearly $98 million for renovation projects at 14 elementary schools;
• nearly $46.5 million for two middle school renovation projects;
• over $96.2 million for renovation projects at three high schools; and
• nearly $26.2 million for infrastructure management across the system, including technology upgrades, roof replacement, security enhancements, and upgrades to make facilities accessible for people with disabilities.
Even though this bond doesn’t include funds to renovate schools in the Annandale area, (except TJSST, which serves a small proportion of local kids), our schools would benefit from the infrastructure improvement funds.
There are plenty of other reasons why Annandale residents should vote for the school bond:
• It’s important to increase school capacity to accommodate growing enrollment, and replacing aging infrastructure now will be less costly than putting it off until systems deteriorate further.
• Construction costs are low now, which means FCPS should be able to get more bang for the buck.
• As the group Citizens for Better Schools notes, maintaining Fairfax County’s highly touted school system is good for business and the local economy. The strong reputation of FCPS schools, along with an educated workforce, encourages businesses to relocate here.
• Previous bonds that have funded important projects in Annandale wouldn’t have passed without support from voters in other parts of the county.
Construction of the new elementary school at the site of the former Lacey administrative building, for example, is being funded by a school bond passed by voters in 2007. That bond also funded renovations at Beech Tree and Westlawn elementary schools. A 2005 bond funded renovations at Sleepy Hollow Elementary.