A joint committee of Prince William supervisors and school board members has a new number in mind to eliminate the 206 portable classroom trailers used across the county to deal with school overcrowding: $143 million.
That’s the amount school division officials say it will cost to the build two additional elementary schools and “40 percent of a new middle school” needed to educate all of Prince William County’s schoolchildren in actual buildings rather than metal- and vinyl-sided trailers. That’s on top of the 12 new schools and 70 classroom additions already included in the school division’s $1.2 billion 10-year capital improvement plan.
A group of six school board members and supervisors – three from each board — has met occasionally for more than a year to devise a plan to nearly eliminate the portable classroom trailers the school division has relied on for decades to mitigate persistent overcrowding.
The group recognizes the school division will likely never be completely eliminate trailers. Some will always be needed to house students during periods of construction or renovation, they say. But the goal is to stop relying on them for an overall lack of classroom space.
After a nearly four-month-long summer break, the group returned to its work Saturday, Sept. 29, and will meet again this month to hone a recommendation to bring to a joint meeting of both boards set for Tuesday, Nov. 27.
During the Sept. 29 meeting, the committee was presented with the new cost– $143 million – and met in closed session to discuss four possible sites the county may want to “bank,” or buy in advance, for some of the needed new schools.
The county’s existing 10-year capital improvement plan already calls for 12 new schools – five elementary, three middle and three high schools – as well as 70 new classrooms built as school additions for a total cost of $1.2 billion.
The additional $143 million would add two elementary schools and “40 percent of a middle school” for a total of 14 new schools and more than 100 classrooms built on existing schools.
The school division already has five sites for new schools. It would need nine more to complete the new plan…