Fairfax County School Board Approves FY 2020-24 Capital Improvement Program
The Fairfax County School Board voted to approve the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) FY 2020-24 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at its business meeting on January 24.
The FY 2020-24 CIP reflects a five-year requirement of $972 million, or roughly $194 million per year, to build new facilities and provide capacity enhancement projects, modular additions, and possible boundary adjustments to accommodate enrollment needs. The School Board will begin discussions considering best practices and goal setting in its boundary policy this spring. Any boundary adjustment or program change would be discussed and decided through a transparent process that engages the community in accordance with School Board policies and regulations. Included in the CIP are proposals for three new elementary schools and one new high school.
“This is a particularly challenging CIP because FCPS is facing growth in some areas of the county that will exceed our ability to accommodate students and may require creative solutions to provide necessary classroom space,” said School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders. “This is a fiscally responsible five-year CIP that will support 21st century learning opportunities for FCPS students.”
The FY 2020-24 CIP reflects $315 million approved by county voters in the 2017 School Bond Referendum. Among the funded projects are a new elementary school in the northwest part of the county and two modular addition relocations, as well planning for additions to West Potomac, Justice, and Madison High Schools. Unfunded projects include a new elementary school near Metro’s silver line, a high school in the western part of the county, a modular, and five new or repurposed schools. Funds for planning or renovations at 15 named elementary schools are included, as well as four middle schools and seven high schools.
Funding for capital improvement projects is currently limited by a $180 million yearly cap on school bond sales. Additional funding sources include $15.6 million from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for infrastructure management, and $7.6 million from FCPS operating funds for minor capacity enhancements and routine or major maintenance.
The Board also approved two amendments to the FY 2020-24 CIP. The first approved the installation of solar panels on at least three schools as part of a pilot project with Fairfax County Government, with a goal of having those panels provide at least 76 percent of the energy required to operate each school. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Chantilly High, and Mason Crest Elementary will undergo independent evaluations to determine if they have the structural, electrical, environmental, and economic capability to support solar panels prior to installation.
The second amendment requests an increase of the yearly sale on school bonds to $205 million to enable the district to accelerate planning and renovations for 20 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and a central office building to be repurposed. Due to rising construction costs, the increased funding will maintain the current school renovation cycle at 37 years but will significantly reduce the use of temporary classrooms. The infusion would also allow completion of the 2009 Renovation Queue by FY 2028, which is 4 years earlier than projected.
The Board also directed the chair to work with County Government to schedule a joint work session on climate action with a goal of establishing a joint task force to work on these issues.
“It is critical to address climate change at the local level in the absence of any action at the federal level,” added Corbett Sanders. “We are very excited about the solar pilot project with the County, which will enable us to further reduce our use of fossil fuels by relying on solar energy at three schools. By partnering with the County, we can pool our resources to make additional progress in reducing our carbon footprint and investing in clean energy technologies.”
Note: For more information, contact the Office of Facilities Planning Services at 571-423-2330.