None of the Above

Among the plans for the proposed boundary changes for the 12th high school, two have emerged as the “top contenders”; Administration Recommendation v 1.1 and Plan 2.1.(a).

I’d like to suggest a third plan – None of the Above. Read the rest of this entry »


PWCS’ Time Warp

Posted today, April 23, 2014, on the PWCs web site is the recommended boundary plan for the 12th high school.  It’s dated May 7, 2014 and the 2nd paragraph in the report reads as follows:

Public input was gained by way of two community meetings. Not only did these meetings foster an environment where the public was able to highlight the perceived merits and shortcomings of the administration’s recommended boundary plan, but they also helped to bring awareness to potential implications of the plan that were beyond the ability of PWCS staff to foresee. The Office of Facilities Services held community meetings on Wednesday April 30, 2014 at Brentsville High School and on Thursday May 1, 2014 at Hylton High School”

Seems PWCS is in a time warp!

Seriously, however……  The changes proposed here are major.  They affect practically all of the high schools in our county.  If you want a better example of why the 12th high school should have been flipped with the 13th, look no further than the projected enrollment totals at the 12th high school – it never goes about 92%.  Patriot remains at over 130% and Battlefield is between 120% and 130%.

Shouldn’t staff have waited until AFTER the community meetings to finalize their recommendations?  Do our opinions and concerns matter at all?

UPDATE:  Here’s the link to the report which PWCS has now stamped with DRAFT.


Is PWCS Inflating Construction Costs?

Loudoun County awarded a bid to build their next high school for $64 million. Stafford County awarded a bid to build their next high school for $59 million.  PWCS projects that it will  cost $100 million, excluding the pool, to build their next high school.  The schools will house approximately the same number of students and the bids were awarded or will be awarded within 5 months of one another.

Why is PWCS projecting nearly $40 million more for a high school than Loudoun and Stafford’s actual cost?

Read the rest of this entry »

Can We Build Schools Better, Faster, and Cheaper?

Parents have raised concerns in recent weeks about the projected construction costs of Prince William County’s 12th high school.  The school, which is set to open in September 2016 in the Independent Hill area of Prince William County, has a projected construction cost of $110,943,000.  Of particular concern to some parents are the school division’s plans to include a pool in the 12th high school.

The projected cost of this school has many county residents asking if PWCS is building schools that are more expensive than they should be.

As luck would have it, both Loudoun and Prince William County opened new high schools between 2010 and 2012.  How do the costs compare?

Read the rest of this entry »

Stonehaven Development and “Getting” a High School

Several days ago Planning Office Director Chris Price presented the recommendation for development of the Stonehaven property in the Gainesville / Bristow area.  The proposal from county staff was to reduce the amount of land in that parcel that was to be dedicated to employment centers and increase the number of houses to be built there from about 1200 to 2000.  During the presentation it was implied that this would be a good thing for area residents as we’d “get” a much needed high school that would relieve overcrowding at Patriot and Battlefield high schools.

This folks, is malarkey.

Read the rest of this entry »

Open Letter to PWCS About CIP and Enrollment

Tomorrow night the PWC School Board will participate in a work session on student enrollment and new school construction / expansion / renovation.  The public is allowed to attend the meetings.  The meeting will not be televised, and, as far as I can tell, there is no plan for minutes to be made available to the public.

Below are the issues I’d like to see addressed and questions I’d like to have answered.  If there are additional issues you’d like discussed or questions you’d like answered, please let me know by commenting on our facebook page or here.  I’ll publish them and share them with the school board and school division staff.

(1) 30 room addition at Potomac High School

A 30 room addition is currently being constructed at Potomac High School and is expected to open in the Fall of 2013.  This addition will add 630 more seats to Potomac, bringing it’s capacity to 2,285 students from 1,655. In the Fall of 2013 Potomac is projected to have enrollment of 1,678 students. The opening of the new addition will leave Potomac HS approximately 600 students below capacity.

Potomac High School’s current boundaries are surrounded by Forest Park, Freedom, and Gar-Field, with parts of Hylton close by.  Enrollment at those schools in the Fall of 2013 is projected to be as follows:

  • Forest Park  – 338 students over capacity
  • Garfield – 284 students under capacity
  • Freedom – 169 students under capacity
  • Hylton – 339 students over capacity

From which schools will the additional students needed to fill Potomac to capacity come?

(2) 12th High School.

The 12th high school is currently scheduled to open in the Fall of 2016 (2016 – 2017 school year).  The school will be located near the Kelly Building, kind of at the intersection of  the current boundaries for Hylton, OP, and Brentsville high schools.

Assuming no students from Hylton are moved to Potomac when the addition at Potomac opens, those three schools are projected to be 1,248 students overcapacity in the Fall of 2016.

A new school is 2,053 students.  Assuming the 12th high school only takes the excess enrollment from Hylton, Brentsville, and OP, and, assuming no students are transferred from Hylton to Potomac when the addition opens at Potomac in the Fall of 2013, the 12th high school will be 805 students below capacity when it opens.

From which high schools will the additional 800 students needed to fill the school come?

Remember, that’s assuming no students are moved from Hylton to Potomac when the addition opens at Potomac.  If students are moved from Hylton to Potomac, more than 800 students will be needed to fill the 12th high school to capacity.

(3) Patriot High School

Based on current estimates, with no transfers allowed, Patriot High School is projected to have enrollment as follows through the Fall of 2016:

  • Fall of 2012 – 225 students overcapacity.
  • Fall of 2013 – 631 students overcapacity.
  • Fall of 2014 – 823 students overcapacity.
  • Fall of 2015 – 870 students overcapacity.
  • Fall of 2016 – 914 students overcapacity.

Patriot high school’s current boundaries are bordered by Brentsville, Stonewall, and Battlefield High Schools.  Brentsville and Stonewall are projected to be slightly below capacity through 2016, but Battlefield high school is projected to be 588 students overcapacity in the Fall of the 2016.

A new high school isn’t currently planned in the Patriot / Battlefield area until the Fall of 2019, by which time Patriot and Battlefield high schools will be move than 1700 students overcapacity.  What are your plans for relieving overcrowding at Patriot and Battlefield High Schools between now and 2019?

(4) Flipping the open dates for the 12th and 13th high schools

Based on in area enrollment, in 2016 the schools closest to the site of the 12th high school will be at or slightly below capacity while schools further west will be significantly above capacity.  Looking at the in area enrollment projections and transfer rates, it appears that the school division is justifying building the 12th high school based on transfers, and even then the excess enrollment caused by transfers won’t be sufficient to fill the 12th high school.  That means the school division will have to draw some very creative boundaries for the 12th high school.

We’ve all hear the rumors of promises made by Board of County Supervisors Members about the 12th high school, including the statement that it will be payback for all the new construction that’s gone on in the western end of the county lately or that it will keep children in certain communities from having to attend schools they consider undesirable.  We’ve all heard talk of a pool at the 12th high school, despite the increasingly tight school division budget which has forced some schools to ration paper, and no cost estimates for building, maintaining, and insuring a pool at a school.

What we haven’t heard is justification based on enrollment for building a high school mid-county in 2016.

So I’d like to school division to justify building the 12th high school in 2016 mid-county, with a pool.  I’d also like to know what the consequences would be if the school division were to push the 12th high school’s open date back a few years and pull the 13th high school’s open date forward a few years – so the 13th high school would open in 2016 or 2017 and the 12th high school would open in 2018 or 2019.

Enrollment Projections and School Construction

Nothing gets parents up in arms more than overcrowded schools, boundary changes, and new school construction.  When coupled with accusations of preferential treatment in one end of the county and allegations of paybacks, discussions about school overcrowding, transfers, and construction are bound to engender controversy.

On November 20th the school division will host a work session on enrollment projections and school construction.  The work session will follow the regular school board meeting and will be open to the public, though the public will not be able to ask questions.

Read the rest of this entry »