On Tuesday, Loudoun County voters will be asked to vote yes or no on the School Bond Referendum, which will determine how the county funds the construction of four new schools as well as the renovation of another. The bond amount on the ballet totals $169,620,000. The five projects included in the single question are two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school – all in the Ashburn area – plus renovations at Park View High School. The new schools will appear on the ballot as ES-6, ES-22, MS-6 and HS-8 respectively.
The Capital Improvements Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors for fiscal year 2011, outlines the projects:
- ES-16 (Moorefield Station Elementary School) will be located near the as-yet-undeveloped Moorefield Station. This mixed-use development is located along the Dulles Greenway and the school itself will be built south of Amberleigh Farm Drive, north of Clarendon Square and west of the future Mooreview Parkway. The 91,100-square-foot schools, planned on about 20 acres will house 875 students in K-5 and contain a media center, cafeteria, multipurpose room, and two unlighted outdoor fields (soccer and softball).
- ES-22 will be located on Ashburn Village Boulevard, with Waxpool Road to the east, Red Rum Drive to the south and Farmwell Road to the north situated just east of the Ryan Bickel Fields. The project will have the same specifications as ES-16.
- MS-6 will share property with Newton-Lee Elementary School in Ashburn. The two-story school will be located on approximately 35 acres and consist of 168,780 square feet. Student capacity will be 1,350 from grades six through eight. Plans calls for a media center, cafeteria, auditorium, gymnasium, auxiliary gymnasium and three unlighted outdoor playing fields (two soccer and one softball). The primary concern raised by parents involves the playing fields, which, if built, would cause Newton-Lee Elementary School to lose its track. The elementary school’s track was paid for with money raised by its PTO.
- The bond item that has drawn the most criticism is that of HS-8, slated for construction on land the county has agreed to purchase from the National Conference Center in Lansdowne. Once built, the school should relieve overcrowding at Stone Bridge High School and Broad Run High School, but critics of the site fear that the school will cause major traffic and parking problems. The 279,000-square-foot school will be located on approximately 75 acres and include a media center, cafeteria, gymnasium, auxiliary gymnasium, outdoor playing fields, and other associated spaces to support the high school program. The school’s capacity will be 1,800 students in grades nine through 12.
Twenty years ago, Loudoun Country had 34 schools with 15,118 students enrolled. Currently, as of the beginning of the 2011 school year, Loudoun County has 80 schools and 66,266 students. With this kind of growth, Loudoun Country Public Schools has been one of the fastest-growing school systems in the country. The Capital Improvements Plan estimates that enrollment in Loudoun County Public Schools will increase by approximately 3,000 students each year for the next three years.
The question on the ballot will be phrased as follows:
Question: Shall the Country of Loudoun, Virginia contract a debt and issue its general obligation capital improvement bonds in the maximum amount of $169,620,000 to finance in whole or in part, the cost to design, construct and equip the new Moorefield Station Elementary School (ES-16), Ashburn Area Elementary School (ES-22), Ashburn Area Middle School (MS-6), Ashburn Area High School (HS-8) and Park View High School?
If approved by voters, the County will contract a general obligation bond with a 20-year repayment schedule.
If the Referendum does not pass in November, the Board of Supervisors will have to find other resources to build the schools such as seeking financing through the Virginia Public School Authority.