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Stafford High project still raising questions
Date published: 11/1/2012
Little more than a year ago, Stafford County's School Board members approved a plan for a new Stafford High School. There wasn't much public reaction.
But as the board has gotten closer to putting the project out to bid, constituents have begun to speak up. And many are not happy.
JROTC students at Stafford High complained that their outbuilding was scheduled for demolition. Student athletes raised a cry because several fields would be unusable during the construction project, which is expected to take two years.
Automotive students began showing up at meetings to protest the lack of a mechanic training program in the new school.
And recently, Stafford Supervisor Paul Milde proposed holding a referendum on the $66.1 million project, to let voters decide the project's fate. Supervisors plan to take up that issue at their Nov. 20 meeting.
While School Board members aren't dismissive of the concerns, most members continue to say that the school project, long in the works, needs to move forward.
"We are not going to change the game plan at this point in time," board member Meg Bohmke said.
Stafford High School, in the southern end of the county, is 37 years old, and just about everyone involved agrees that something needs to be done to the building.
The initial plan had been to construct a new building on land the school system owns, the Clift Farm tract in the southern part of the county. The old school would then have been used for a countywide career and technical education center.
But School Board members felt the price for such a plan was too high, and last year decided to rebuild Stafford High on its existing site.
On Aug. 9, 2011, the board approved a plan calling for a new school with nearly 275,000 square feet, at a cost of about $66 million.
THE AUTO PROGRAM
As it's designed, the new high school will be smaller than the current school by more than 10,000 square feet.
Space for the auto program would require about 9,000 square feet.
So, while the new school is designed to have 29,000 square feet for career and technical education, including a cosmetology center and small-engine repair lab, it doesn't include space for the school's popular automotive program.
WHAT HAPPENED: At 37, Stafford High School needs some work. The School Board voted last year to replace the building with a new one. As the project moves forward and the county prepares to solicit bids, members of the public have complained about the plans.AT ISSUE: The two most contentious points include plans to scrap the high school's popular automotive program and the two-year planned interruption in the use of athletic fields. WHY IT MATTERS: Fans of the automotive program say it provides the county with much-needed trained mechanics. The school division says the program would require at least $3 million to keep it on Stafford High grounds. Student athletes say that the disruption of practice time and home games could affect their ability to get scholarships.