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Board looks at auto program, fields

September 26, 2012 12:10 am

BY LINDLEY ESTES

In a work session Tuesday evening, the Stafford County School Board discussed the automotive program and athletic practice fields that will be lost when the new Stafford High School is built.

The $64 million rebuild of Stafford High will be on land next to the existing school. The new high school will open in September 2015, and the current building, which is 37 years old, will be demolished.

The automotive program, which currently has about 110 students, would dissolve because of lack of space at the new school.

Auto programs at Brooke Point and North Stafford high schools are too crowded to take Stafford High students, said Scott Horan, assistant superintendent for facilities. The county's other two high schools--Colonial Forge and Mountain View--don't offer the courses.

Germanna Community College recently opened an auto tech center in Stafford, but students have to pay for classes and would need transportation to get there.

Horan gave board members options for creating space for the program.

"It's a math problem. We built the budget on a school of a certain size. We could not replicate Stafford High School," Horan said.

Options are:

Take 9,000 square feet from the existing plan and repurpose it for the automotive program. This would take space away from other programs and add $150,000 for design and $750,000 for construction. It also delays the opening of the new school by one year.

Add 9,000 square feet to the school for the program, which would cost $4 million and delay the school opening one year.

Add a detached building to the new school plan. This would maintain the construction schedule but cost $3.5 million to $4 million and reduce available parking.

Stay with the current plan of keeping the automotive program off-site.

Some board members expressed interest in exploring dual enrollment with Germanna's program.

Horan also presented options for the practice fields.

The plan for the new school has the practice fields used as dirt sites during construction. Bringing dirt in from off-site, he noted, would cost about $3 million.

The plan is to bus athletes to other practice field locations including Dixon-Smith Middle School, Brooke Point High and the Gari Melchers Building (the former Gayle Middle School).

Citizens at previous meetings have called busing athletes a "logistical nightmare."

One parent, Rodney Moore, said Tuesday night that his son will lose valuable tutoring and study time if he has to travel to practice fields. "It would make a longer and a harder day for students at Stafford High School," he said.

His son also spoke at the meeting. He said his dream is to be in the NFL and having to travel to practice fields will get in the way of that dream. If he can't study and his grades drop, he might not be able to play football.

Falmouth District board member Meg Bohmke said, "We're not going to take your dreams away from you."

She said that the board wants to work with them to make sure all students can achieve their dreams, whether students need to be bused, or a turf field in installed.

Horan's first option is to install a turf field at a cost of $1.5 million.

The second option is to stagger practice times on existing fields, which would quickly degrade their condition, he said.

The third option is to stagger practice times and use adjacent Chichester Park when it opens in 2014. But that also would harm existing fields.

Another option would be to build practice fields at the Clift Farm location, but there would be costs for irrigation, busing and temporary parking.

Horan said the current plan "is the most optimal."

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976
Email: lestes@freelancestar.com





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