More Classroom Space Proposed

More Classroom Space Proposed

Proposed school bond referendum will impact three greater Vienna area schools.

While the races for the General Assembly have predominated discussion about the upcoming election, county voters will also have the opportunity to vote on a $291 million school bond referendum this Nov. 4.

If the referendum passes, Louise Archer Elementary in Vienna will receive a $1.9 million ten-room modular addition and Mosby Woods Elementary in Fairfax will gain a $2.1 million ten-room modular addition. Luther Jackson Middle in Falls Church will receive a ten-room $4.65 million addition.

These additions are included in the $290.61 million referendum in which 21 percent, or $61.45 million, will go towards new construction, 66 percent or $190.96 million will go towards the renovation of two middle schools and two high schools, and roughly 13 percent or $36.75 million will go towards infrastructure management.

"Basically, if there's room or space, it's up for grabs," said Louise Archer Elementary principal Dwayne Young, describing available classroom space at Louise Archer. The last major construction to the school was a 1989-1990 renovation which brought the school building up to code.

The modular classrooms or "modulars" poised for Louise Archer and Mosby Woods differ from classroom trailers in their size and amenities, according to Fairfax County Public Schools news liaison Mary Shaw. While trailers hold single classrooms with no support for bathrooms or water, modulars are pre-fabricated wings that offer conventional-sized classrooms, heat, air conditioning, wiring for computers, and water and bathroom space. Modulars are usually attached to the school by covered walkways, have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years, and can be moved if enrollment fluctuates throughout the county, Shaw added.

Two area schools, Louise Archer and Mosby Woods, are set to receive these modulars, which they will use for classroom space.

"For us, it's terrific. We have been growing," Young said. "We've been creative in [thinking of] how to use all our available space."

At Louise Archer, there are already eight trailers or "learning cottages" used by itinerant teachers and music classes. With the new English as a Second Language program, as well as the 10 to 12-student small group instruction, teachers have had to work with students in the cafeteria, the faculty lounge, and conference rooms, Young added.

"Our trailers are getting to the point where they need to be renovated," said Janet Gelb, Louise Archer PTSA president. Gelb also said she plans to vote for the referendum on Nov. 4. "We do need the space. We try not to put classrooms out in the trailers, but it comes to the point where we have to."

At Mosby Woods, principal Laura Shibles said the modular may be reserved for one or two grade levels.

"The ten-room addition will be used for the overall school," said Shibles in an e-mail. Mosby Woods' last major construction was an addition completed six years ago that currently serves two grade levels and holds the school library and art room. "This year, we added a third grade Gifted and Talented (G/T) Center and will add a grade every year until we have a G/T Center for grades 3 to 6. The addition would not necessarily be for the Center though, but to offset the impact of additional classroom space."

"The school community was supportive to Mosby Woods getting a G/T Center," Shibles continued. "A modular was part of the discussion with the community when [the G/T Center] was being looked at prior to the final vote of the School Board."

Luther Jackson Middle in Falls Church will receive a ten-room addition made of brick or cinder block at the cost of $4.65 million.

"It's a wonderful thing if this comes to pass," Young said. "We'd like to be forced to be less creative with space."