Voters approve FCPS bond, will fund three area school projects

Main entrance to West Potomac High School at dusk
West Potomac is currently the most overcrowded high school in the county.

Fairfax County voters overwhelmingly approved a bond referendum Tuesday that will help fund two renovations and one expansion at three overcrowded Richmond Highway area schools.

More than 225,708 residents voted in favor of the $360 million bond, which will go toward a number of construction projects countywide, including one new elementary school, a modular building relocation, three high school additions, five elementary school renovations and two middle school renovations. It also includes planning funds for six other elementary school construction projects.

Mount Vernon district school board representative Karen Corbett Sanders issued a statement Wednesday evening thanking voters for approving the measure.

“These funds will enable us to proceed with construction, renovations, enhancements, and planning for improvements to 17 schools,” said Corbett Sanders, who was re-elected Tuesday and is the current board chair. “Projects funded by the 2019 bond referendum will provide upgraded, current facilities for our students, staff members, and the tens of thousands of Fairfax County residents who use the schools for recreation, meetings, and community events.”

For the Richmond Highway area, the bond means funding for an addition at West Potomac High School and the renovation of Hybla Valley and Washington Mill elementary schools. Those three schools are currently the most overcrowded in the Richmond Highway area.

Corbett Sanders said Thursday that the projects at those schools will help eliminate trailers, allow the elementary schools to get rid of “art on a cart” and “music on a cart” because of a lack of classroom space, and allow for more lab areas.

“It will allow us to get rid of trailers at the those schools,” Corbett Sanders said. “We’re getting rid of trailers that have been sitting there [at Washington Mill] for well over 20 years.”

Trailers at Hybla Valley Elementary School
Temporary classrooms behind Hybla Valley Elementary School.

West Potomac’s enrollment is currently at 117 percent capacity, according to FCPS, making it the most overcrowded high school in the county. There are 18 trailers being used to accommodate the student population. Washington Mill is currently at 106 percent capacity, with 13 trailers in use. Hybla Valley is at 116 percent capacity, with 16 trailers in use.

West Potomac’s addition is expected to be completed in time for the 2022-2023 school year. Once it’s done, FCPS projects enrollment will fall to 93 percent of capacity despite an overall increase in the number of students enrolled.

Similarly, the renovations at both Hybla Valley and Washington Mill will alleviate the crowding situations at those schools. When Hybla Valley’s renovation is finished before the 2021-2022 school year, it will drop the capacity utilization to 96 percent. Washington Mill’s renovation is projected to be done for the 2022-2023 school year, and it will add enough space to drop the capacity utilization to 84 percent.

Both Hybla Valley and Washington Mill had not had a full renovation since 1989.

In the past five years a number of Richmond Highway area schools have completed renovations, including Waynewood, Hollin Meadows, Woodlawn, Stratford Landing, Bucknell and Mount Vernon Woods elementary schools, as well as Sandburg Middle School. Belle View Elementary is currently undergoing renovation.