Pricetag Jumps on South County School

Pricetag Jumps on South County School

Although contracts were just awarded for the south county high-school project in April, the Fairfax County School Board passed a "Change Order to Predevelopment Services Contract" on May 8, for an additional $445,980.

The increase covered "the realignment of the original connector road" and "the enlargement of the connector road from the school site to Hooes Road," linking Hooes and Silverbrook. This is the first county school being constructed in a public/private partnership, and Gary Chevelier, Fairfax County Public Schools director of facilities planning, looked at it as uncharted territory. In the long run, Chevelier said that the county would save money on the school construction because it will be built quicker, sparing the project from further inflationary measures.

"This is absolutely new territory," he said. "We don't anticipate cost going up."

The county is using the basic design plan of Westfield High School in Chantilly. The predevelopment contract was awarded to Clark Educational Advisors in December in the base amount of $1,079,800. With this new access issue, they have "adapted and updated the professional design documents formerly used for Westfield High School to meet the requirements of the south county high-school site and current building codes."

Lewis Rauch, Fairfax County Public Schools design and construction engineer, noted how the original plan with the two-lane access roads was for the school only. Then the county looked at the roads as thoroughfares for future facilities in the area. Two facilities that will benefit from the wider roads are the golf course and the senior living center that are planned near the school location.

"We had figured a two-lane road through there," Rauch said. "Our assumptions are based on what the school required. The county takes a comprehensive look at it."

South county resident Liz Bradsher was instrumental in getting the public/private partnership used in the school construction through the right channels. She is following the progress as well.

"It's a very complex project because of the proffering as well as because of the partnership or contract with private industry," she said.

Lisa Toler, a Fairfax Station parent, has watched the progress on the site. So far, the property on the corner of Silverbrook Road and Hooes Road is fenced in, and heavy equipment is present. Bradsher and Toler have children who will attend the school in 2005 when it opens.

"When you see progress, you feel like you're getting somewhere," Toler said.