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Construction starts on Westgate Elementary renovation

The Fairfax County school system broke ground in December on planned construction at Westgate Elementary School, the architecture firm for the project announced.

The Falls Church school will receive a 40,000-square foot addition and a 50,000-square foot renovation. Construction is scheduled to be completed by fall 2015.

Architecture and design firm Cooper Carry is overseeing the project to relieve overcrowding at the school. The firm is also heading the conversion of a recently purchased office building into a second campus for Bailey’s Elementary School, another Falls Church school operating over capacity.

“We are committed to delivering environments that are tailored to the unique needs of each individual school,” said Lauren Perry Ford, a senior associate at Cooper Carry, in a statement. “Our work on Westgate Elementary School continues to be rewarding and we are thrilled to be a part of such an important project.”

Westgate Elementary’s renovation includes the modernization of classrooms as well as the cafeteria and gym. The new addition will house administrative offices, a new school library and additional classrooms.

The construction will make Westgate one of the first schools in the state to meet a new standard for energy efficient, sustainable school buildings. The state Collaborative for High Performance Schools provides guidelines for environmentally responsible learning spaces. After the renovation, Westgate will have new high-efficiency HVAC systems and outdoor learning spaces, among other sustainable features.

“We look forward to the day that the students move into their new classrooms and hope the new school further inspires the children to learn about and explore the world around them,” Ford said.

School Board to hold public hearing on Capital Improvement Program

The county School Board will hold a public hearing on the recently released Capital Improvement Program at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The hearing will be held at Luther Jackson Middle School, at 3020 Gallows Road in Falls Church.

The School Board is proposing $866 million in construction and renovations in the 2015-19 Capital Improvement Program, which covers the school system’s planned building projects for the next five years.

Projects in the CIP include five new elementary schools to help cover expected growth in enrollment for county schools. The CIP shows that 15 schools in the county currently are at least 15 percent over capacity, and that total is projected to grow to 39 schools by the 2018-19 school year.

Funds approved in the 2013 school bond referendum and previous year’s bonds will provide $416 million of the $866 million five-year requirement, leaving $450 million unfunded. The school system hopes to address some of this with future bond votes.

FCPS plans science and technology expo

County schools are hosting a science and technology expo in February, and they are looking for sponsors and participants to assist at the event.

The STEM-H Expo is planned for Feb. 22 at Chantilly High School, and it will provide information on the fields in the titular acronym: science, technology, engineering, math and health sciences.

The event is sponsored by the county’s six high school career academies, Chantilly Academy, Edison Academy, Fairfax Academy, Falls Church Academy, Marshall Academy, and West Potomac Academy.

The academies are still looking for colleges, businesses and other organizations related to the STEM-H industries to speak, exhibit or provide demonstrations at the event.