main banner

Monday, December 29, 2014

FCPS outlines solutions to school overcrowding

Portable classrooms handle the overflow at Glen Forest Elementary School.
The proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2016-20, released by Fairfax County Public Schools earlier this month outlines expected enrollment growth in the schools and offers a long list of short and long-term solutions to increase capacity.

The CIP calls for a total of $856 million – about $171 million annually for the next five years – for four new schools, additions, renovations, boundary changes, and more temporary classrooms and modular units – to address current and future increases in enrollment.

One of the new schools is proposed for the eastern part of Fairfax County, although it doesn’t specify a location. A proposed redevelopment project for Bailey’s Crossroads would include a new urban-style elementary school. There has also been some discussion about locating a new school on the site of the Willston Center in Seven Corners, although there is resistance among the Board of Supervisors for doing that.

According to the CIP, funds approved by voters in the 2103 school bond referendum and previously approved bonds provide approximately $220 million, leaving an unfunded balance of $636 million.

Between 2013 and 2014, Fairfax County schools have seen a net increase of 2,000 students. Since 2006, enrollment has increased by nearly 22,000, and FCPS projects continued growth over the next five years.

The school board will hold a public hearing on the FY 2016-20 CIP on Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church. The board has scheduled a work session for Jan. 12 and will vote on the CIP at its Jan. 22 business meeting.

Much of the growth in enrollment is occurring in the Annandale/Mason area. Glen Forest Elementary School in Bailey’s Crossroads is projected to be at 107 percent of capacity utilization next year and at 132 percent by the 2019-20 school year.

The CIP predicts Woodburn Elementary School to reach 130 percent of capacity and Weyanoke Elementary School to reach 115 percent in five years.

Meanwhile, four elementary schools in the Annandale/Mason area – Beech Tree, Belvedere, Camelot, and Ravensworth – are projected to be at or under 95 percent of capacity in 2019-20.

Among middle schools, Luther Jackson is projected to be 138 percent and Glasgow at 119 percent over capacity in 2019-20. Poe Middle School is projected to be at just 65 percent of capacity in 2014-15 and at 86 percent in 2019-20.

Annandale High School is also projected to be under capacity: 85 percent next year and 92 percent in 2019-20.

Potential solutions to overcrowding are presented in an attachment to the CIP, although many of them have distant timelines. The following is list of solutions for schools in the Annandale/Mason area with the estimated time frame in parentheses:
  • Provide capacity relief at Glen Forest Elementary School by reassigning students to other schools in the Stuart pyramid (2017-19).
  • Provide capacity relief for Glen Forest and other schools in the Stuart pyramid by building a new school in the eastern part of the county (2022-25).
  • Provide capacity relief for Westlawn, Woodburn, and other elementary schools by reopening the Leis administrative center or the Graham Road community building (2020-24).
  • Provide capacity relief for Belvedere and Canterbury Woods elementary schools by establishing a new Advanced Academic Program (AAP) center in the Annandale pyramid at Annandale Terrace or Braddock elementary schools (2019-21).
  • Provide capacity relief at Glasgow and Frost middle schools and keep Annandale High School pyramid cohorts together by creating a new AAP center at Poe Middle School and reassigning Annandale High School pyramid students from Glasgow and Frost to the new APP center at Poe (2017-19).
  • Provide capacity relief for Stuart High School by applying for a zoning variance to construct an addition (2020-22).
  • Provide capacity relief for Luther Jackson Middle School and keep cohorts together by reassigning a portion of Jackson students who will eventually attend Oakton High School to Thoreau Middle School (2017-18).


  1. Any word on relief for Columbia Elementary in Annandale? They are projected to be WAY over capacity and they don't have much room for additional trailers. Currently the entire 4th grade is outside, and others will have to follow soon.

  2. Or about renovating Falls Church High School...its an embarrassment that FCPS has let that building deteriorate to the condition it is

  3. Any reference in the CIP about the Superintendent's request to the County for the return of the former Willston school site to help relieve overcrowding?

  4. How about addressing the root(s) of the overcrowding problem in schools?

  5. Relieving Glen Forest through new construction (not just shifting kids to Bailey's) should be the county's number one priority.

  6. Yes, please. Address the root of the problem: too many people coming here illegally, not respecting the laws of the land. It's time to change the terms of the debate, people.

    1. Exactly, All anyone wants to do around here is build another school instead of addressing head on what is causing the overcrowding problem.

  7. What about Braddock ES & Annandale Terrace ES? I pretty sure that they're over capacity, too and already have mod units and trailers.

  8. Braddock Elementary is over capacity with over 800 students, and continuing to grow. How will it hold an AAP center as well?

  9. Pam Broberg1/4/15, 2:23 AM

    Free contraceptives for all those 15+ would help too. Will we continue to have a "baby boom" of immigrants or native-born families and low-income single moms? Or might growth slow? I remember when the current baby boomers were postponing childbirth and we had to close and create new uses for schools. Never hurts to have excess capacity though. So many schools look like there's a giant trailer park in back already.