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Monday, April 8, 2013

Fairfax County/school board exploring opportunities for shared facilities

A joint working group made up of Fairfax County supervisors and school board members is exploring the county’s capital needs and creative ways to fund new projects—including opportunities for shared facilities.

The Capital Facilities and Debt Management Working Group was convened by Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova to respond to concerns raised by the school board about increased facilities needs due to a growing student population and aging school buildings.

Members of the group include school board members Sandy Evans (Mason), Patty Reed (Providence), and Kathy Smith (Sully) and supervisors John Cook (Braddock), John Foust (Dranesville), and Jeff McKay (Lee).

In the Mason District, there had been discussions about incorporating classroom space into the Woodrow Wilson Library to help relieve severe overcrowding at Bailey’s Elementary School. County officials even drew up plans for shared space as part of an ongoing library renovation project but that didn’t happen, in part because of legal impediments.

In the Lee District however, a similar but smaller-scale arrangement was implemented this fall. John Marshall Library provides space to Fairfax County Public Schools for an early literacy program serving Spanish-speaking children and parents in the Rose Hill Elementary School attendance area.

Four and 5-year-old children who do not have access to Head Start or other preschool programs come to the library three mornings a week for learning, arts and crafts, and other activities to prepare them for kindergarten at Rose Hill, said  Bonnie Bechert, youth services manager at the library. Their parents come, too, for educational programs in nutrition, discipline, and other parenting topics.

The program had been incorporated into the planning process for the library renovation. “That was a good opportunity for us to cooperate,” said McKay, although he notes that there were some conflicts over parking and other issues.

“We ought to be looking at synergy, not animosity,” McKay said. “We have limited resources, so we need to maximize the use of facilities.” Marshall had a community meeting room that was mainly used in the evening, so it made sense to use that space for the early childhood program in the morning.

“This working group will explore creative solutions to issues which both the Board of Supervisors and School Board have grappled with for the past several years,” Bulova said. “This open dialogue will foster a greater amount of collaboration and meaningful discussion regarding our capital needs challenges.”

The county shares its debt capacity with the school system, and the county also has capital needs, Bulova said. There are limitations to what can be spent annually without harming the county’s triple-A bond rating.

At the working group’s first meeting, April 3, members discussed general issues around debt management in Fairfax County. The working group’s next meeting, scheduled for June 5, is expected to cover the county and FCPS capital improvement programs and the selection process for determining which projects should be funded.


  1. Tax paying property owner4/8/13, 8:04 PM

    George Mason library is already being used as warehousing for students of Springfield Academy with disastrous results. Shrieking, shoving mobs of children are dumped with minimal supervision and hence minimal manners.

    The property owners whose taxes built this library are being driven out by the pandemonium. Illegal immigrants in public housing do not pay property taxes. Property owners should not be driven out of the library because all the Prince William illegals don't fit in the school system.

    The "legal impediments" that made it illegal to dump overcrowded schools into Woodrow Wilson Library remain. Voters agreed to a bond issue to improve libraries, not warehouse and feed illegal immigrants.

  2. Getting VERY tired of making this comment over and over again, but here goes: All those Spanish-speaking, brown-skinned kids for whom "Tax paying property owner" has SO MUCH DISDAIN are U.S.-born U.S. CITIZENS. They have as much right to be here as you and I.

  3. While I agree with both comments.... I have to say that I do agree MORE with the Tax Paying Property Owner. Sad to say, but I have seen that the majority of kids going to my kids school belong to illegals. I know not all hispanics are "illegal" - but I suggest you go to the Baileys field when school lets out and tell me what you think "anonymous."

  4. the kids may belong to illegals as you put it... but THEY THEMSELVES are U.S. citizens and are entitled to all the rights and privileges thereof, regardless of their parents' immigration status.

  5. Hey, why dont we call people who are in this country illegally undocumented? People cannot be illegal!