School Board Unaware of Plans to Build Pools in 13th and 14th High Schools

Yesterday I posted an article claiming that the school division intended to build pools in the next 3 high schools it builds.  The article, 6 pools in 3 schools, generated some degree of controversy. Two school board members, Mr Trenum and Chairman Johns, addressed the allegations from that article in their board comments last night.

Mt Trenum said, “the last item I’d like to discuss has to do with swimming pools. The latest is that the school division has been planning on building pools at the next 3 high schools. I want to state for the record that as far as I am aware, we have had no discussions as a school board on that. I know I have no participated in any. So, before we go off and start talking about making plans, we need to make sure that we’re all on the same page. Like I said, that would be a decision that I don’t know that I’d be able to support, especially without a lot of other discussions between the county and other organizations within Prince William County.”

Chairman Johns said,“Also following on Mr Trenum’s comments about the pools / pool, there are no pools being considered at any of the high schools beyond the 12th high school. This board has not discussed it. I have no information that any member of our staff has discussed additional pools. Like Mr Trenum, I would have significant trepidation about a proliferation of pools beyond the 12th high school. So, to hopefully put some minds to rest, to my knowledge, that discussion has not taken place.”

As our school board members sated, they are unaware of plans to build pools in the 13th and 14th high schools.

However, that doesn’t mean that the school division and county have no such intentions.  History has shown time and time again that the school board is the last to know when it comes to school division’s intentions.

For years there were rumors that the 12th high school would have a pool. I disregarded those rumors because I thought they were ludicrous, but the rumors persisted and were repeated by people who were in positions to know whether the school division intended to put a pool in the 12th high school.

In November Mr Trenum requested a work session with school division staff to discuss the CIP and overcrowding in schools in his district. At that meeting Mr Cline, Associate Superintendent for Finance and Support Services, confirmed that the school division intended to provide a pool in the 12th high school. That was the first time anyone on the school board was informed of the school division’s plans to place a pool in the 12th high school. That was 6 months ago.

I addressed the school board about their plans to place the pool in the 12th high school in February of this year. Until then the school division had not disclosed anywhere on the public web site, the CIP, or any school division publication that their plans for the 12th high school included a pool. That was 3 months ago.

The request for bids on the 12th high school, including the pools, are supposed to be released this Spring.  As of today, the school board has not seen the plans for the 12th high school or been provided estimates for the cost of operating and managing the pool. There are still no renderings of the school or the pool complex on the school division’s public web site.

{Update – I have been told that until yesterday when I revealed it, the school board had not been told that the pool at the 12th high school was in fact two pools.  Yesterday was the first time they learned that.  Just a couple of weeks before the projects was originally set to solicit bids. }

Six months ago the school board learned that the school division intended to place a pool in the 12th high school.  Three months ago the public learned that the school division intended to place a pool in the 12th high school.  Yesterday they school board learned that the pool at the 12th high school is two pools, not one.  The bids are supposed to be released in a few weeks and the school board and public have not been briefed on the school divisions plans.  No public hearings on the school pools have been held.

PWCS is very good at keeping secrets; at disclosing only what it wants revealed. To the public and the school board. That the school board is unaware that the school division may intend to build pools in the 13th and 14th high schools shouldn’t be surprising. After all, the school board wasn’t aware that the 12th high school would include a pool until 6 months ago.

Sometimes all you need to do to substantiate a rumor is dig; sometimes the CIP can reveal unspoken intentions.

The 12th high school is supposed to open in the Fall of 2016. The 13th high school is supposed to open in the Fall of 2019. According to the CIP, the two high schools will be of the same design and capacity.

An elementary school is also supposed to open in the Fall of 2016 and another elementary school is supposed to open in the Fall of 2018. The two elementary schools are supposed to be of the same design and capacity.

With regards to construction costs, I’d expect the cost between the two elementary schools and the two high schools to increase at about the same rate. So, if the cost of the 2018 elementary school is 10% greater than the cost of the 2016 elementary school, then I’d expect the cost of the 13th high school to be about 8 – 12% greater than the cost of the 12th high school.

The 2016 elementary school is projected to cost $28.5 million. The 2018 elementary school is projected to cost $30.8 million. The percentage increase between the two is about 8%.

The projected cost of the 12th high school, including the pool, is $111 million. The projected cost of the 13th high school is $118 million. The percentage increase between the 12th and 13th high schools is about 6.7%.

That increase is reasonable as it’s within a couple of points of the increase between the elementary schools.  However, that compares the projected cost of the 13th high school to the projected cost of the 12th high school with the pool complex.

The pool complex in the 12th high school is projected to cost $10.5 million, which means the school alone is projected to cost $100.5 million. The percentage increase between the 12th and 13th high schools, excluding the cost of the pool in the 12th high school, is about 17.8%.  That’s about 11% greater than expected.

The percentage increase between the cost of 12th and 13th high schools, is in line with the expected increase ONLY when the cost of the 12th high school includes the pool.  While not a smoking gum, it seems to imply that the cost of the 13th high school also includes a pool.

The school board may not be aware that the school division intends to place a pool in the 13th high school, but the CUP sure does make it look like the school division intends to place a pool in the 13th high school.

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4 Responses to “School Board Unaware of Plans to Build Pools in 13th and 14th High Schools”

  1. Ed Says:

    I would say the board members missed an opportunity to ask Dr Walts directly, in public forum, if pools were included in the future high schools that on the plan.

  2. pwceducationreform Says:

    They’ve missed opportunities to ask lots of questions, particularly regarding the CIP. The projected cost of the 12th high school is about $25 million more than it should be, at least when compared with what Loudoun and Stafford are paying for similar schools, and that does not include the $10.5 million for the pool. $35.5 million is the cost of almost 2 elementary schools. It’s almost a middle school. It’s almost half a high school.

    Why?

  3. Shirley Collins Says:

    Is the contract with Superintendent so lopsided that board is not privy to all that is happening within school system, that may not have anything to do with education of children?

  4. What a Tangled Web We Weave…. | PWC Education Reform Blog Says:

    […] Shirley Collins on School Board Unaware of Plans… […]


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