Paul VI Catholic High School, currently located in the City of Fairfax, is pursuing a relocation to Loudoun County, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced Dec. 19.
The move would take the school from its current home in Fairfax to a diocesan-owned property in South Riding in southeastern Loudoun County, according to a statement from the diocese, which operates Paul VI.
A relocation is not expected before 2020, according to the diocese, as officials are still determining feasibility of such a move.
While the diocese still plans to look into the logistical and financial challenges of such a move, though, relocation is the end goal, according to Fairfax Mayor R. Scott Silverthorne.
“The diocese says they are still assessing the move, but their plan and their intention is to relocate,” Silverthorne said.
The mayor based his assessment on his conversations with officials from the diocese, who notified Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council about the possible move 18 months ago. Attempts to reach diocesan school officials for comment were unsuccessful.
“It is truly a loss to the Fairfax community,” Silverthorne said. “We were always holding out hope they would change their mind. I had offered to continue to work with them to try and find solutions, but they felt a move would be best for their students and their school.”
The decision to relocate is based on the projected long-term needs of the school, according to the Arlington Diocese.
Paul VI has been at its current address on Fairfax Boulevard since its establishment in 1983, but the building dates back to 1935, when it served as the original campus for Fairfax High School. The school operates at close to capacity, and despite attempts to work with Fairfax city officials, expansion at the current location has proved unfeasible.
The Loudoun County site, located at the intersection of Riding Center Drive and Braddock Road about 3 miles west of the Fairfax County line, at 68 acres offers almost quadruple the space of the 18-acre Fairfax campus. The new complex would include facilities for academic and religious enrichment programs, learning centers, extracurricular activities and athletics, according to the diocese.
“A new PVI campus would be a larger, state-of-the art school facility that would further strengthen its heritage as a leading Catholic high school,” said Sister Bernadette McManigal, the diocesan superintendent of schools, said in a statement.
The diocese has guaranteed that at least the incoming freshman class for the 2014-15 school year would remain at the Fairfax campus for a full four years, according to the statement on the relocation.
Paul VI is the only one of the four diocesan-operated high schools located in Fairfax County. If the planned move comes to pass, Fairfax County would be surrounded by Paul VI to the west, Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington County to the north, Bishop Ireton in Alexandria to the east, and Pope John Paul the Great in Prince William County to the south, but will not have a Catholic Church-administered high school within its borders.
“I am a father of PVI alumni, so I am disappointed that we will have fewer educational choices for our children in this community,” Fairfax City Councilman Michael J. DeMarco said. “But as for the City of Fairfax, it will be a great loss, but as always we will adapt and move forward.”
Fairfax City officials hope to work closely with Paul VI in plans for the current property, which sits on prime location across from the Boulevard Shopping Center near Route 123.
“We would like to work closely with them to ensure that whatever goes in there will fit with our plans for Fairfax,” Silverthorne said. “We hope we can work with Paul VI to find a win-win situation for both sides.”