Although the school system’s goal is to renovate schools every 25 years, actual renovation timelines have often exceeded 40 years. West Springfield High School has never received a structural renovation since it opened in 1966, and is not projected to be fully renovated until 2019. Also, three other unrenovated high schools all built in the 1960s languish in queue behind West Springfield and are not projected to be renovated until the 2020s. Are these school renovation timelines viable for Fairfax County?
FCPS leadership has repeatedly stated since at least 2008 that current capital funding is not sufficient to renovate all schools within their 25-year goal. The School Board has referred to the renovation queue backlog as a “crisis,” and also recently admitted that the 25-year renovation goal has not been achieved since 1990. In mid-2013, a new joint School Board-Board of Supervisors task force called the Infrastructure Financing Committee was created to find solutions to county and school system unmet capital needs.
How can the school system continue to thrive if too many of its older, unrenovated schools like West Springfield High School fail to provide optimal learning environments? How can Fairfax County provide adequate capital funding to renovate schools in a more timely manner to achieve their own goals? Why has the school system continually communicated a goal of 25-year renovation cycles if the county has never provided enough funding to make that goal achievable?
Recently, community leaders shared their New Year’s resolutions. Supervisor and IFC co-chair John Cook’s was “to look for solutions to complex problems and concrete ways to make our communities stronger and even better places to live.” A laudable goal. Implementing solutions to accelerate the timing of the “legacy” high school renovations would be a great place to start.
Erik Hawkins, Springfield