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Faced with growing capacity needs and an aging infrastructure, Fairfax County School Board members are moving forward with a request to the Board of Supervisors that would increase construction funding under the Nov. 2013 bond referendum.

Under the last voter-approved schools bond referendum of Nov. 2011, the school system request totaled $252.7 million. The bond was passed with 70 percent of the vote. This coming Election Day, Nov. 5, the School Board hopes voters will see on their ballots and approve a $359.1 million bond referendum.

The funding request includes money for two new elementary schools, one in the Route 1 corridor and another in eastern Fairfax; renovations to 17 elementary and two middle schools; and capacity enhancements at South Lakes High School and a Tysons Corner area elementary school, likely Westbriar. The bond also includes money to acquire land for a future high school in the southwestern part of the county.

“I do think it’s important that we recognize that one of the conversations that we have to have as a board is about the renovation queue. That’s coming up in the future,” School Board member Sandy Evans (Mason District) said. “We also need to have a conversation on how to get through this backlog. It’s important for us, when we consider this in two weeks, that we talk about the backlog [of construction needs] and possibly looking at some other ways of doing things as well as making sure we have a way of dealing with our legacy high schools.”

The time between renovations for all schools is nearly 33 years at current funding levels, according to school system facilities staff. The length of time between renovations could be increased if the school system experiences significant student growth, which could delay renovations while staff uses resources to add capacity at schools.

“Fortunately, we are beginning to move forward with the legacy high schools – these are the high schools which were constructed in the 1960s and have never been completely renovated,” said Kevin Sneed, director of the school system’s Design and Construction Services office. “The remaining legacy schools are Langley, West Springfield, Herndon, Oakton and Falls Church [high schools].

“Langley will be under construction in the spring of 2014. West Springfield is in planning and will be under construction in 2016. Both Herndon and Oakton have planning funding on the upcoming bond and will be under construction in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Falls Church will follow shortly after Oakton. In less than 10 years we will have completed the full renovation of the legacy high schools.”

hhobbs@fairfaxtimes.com