|6245 Leesburg Pike.|
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has purchased a five-story office building in Seven Corners for $9.37 million to relieve severe overcrowding at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences. The funds are from a school bond passed by voters in November.
“I’m pleased that we have been able to purchase the building at 6245 Leesburg Pike through negotiations with the property owners without having to resort to other legal means,” said School Board chair Ilryong Moon Dec. 20. If the owners refused to sell the building, the school board was prepared to seize it through eminent domain, a solution authorized by the board Dec. 5.
The building will be retrofitted with classrooms to serve about 400 students in grades 3-5. It will be the first FCPS school with a vertical design geared for an urban area.
Bailey’s is currently at 130 percent capacity with more than 1,300 students housed in the building and in 19 on-site trailers. A portion of the school library has been converted to classroom space and the school-age after school program and pre-kindergarten classes were removed from the Bailey's site to make room for students. By the 2017-18 school year, FCPS projects enrollment will soar to 1,593.
The school board saw the office building as a solution after failing to find available land for a new school in Bailey’s Crossroads. A proposal to incorporate classrooms into the renovation of the Woodrow Wilson Library, which is next door to Bailey’s Elementary was rejected as not feasible.
Many questions will need to be resolved in converting the office building to a school, including how that site would be administered and how it would be integrated with the original Bailey’s school; how safe, outdoor play space could be provided since FCPS isn’t authorized to make any changes to the outdoors or exterior of the building; and the need to address the impact on traffic on the already congested Route 7. The long-term implications include the likelihood of a boundary study, resulting in the reassignment of students at other schools.