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Stafford High project still raising questions
Date published: 11/1/2012
"Something had to give," said School Board Chairwoman Stephanie Johnson. "It's one of those situations where we all do have to give a little bit."
Bohmke said that school officials made the decision with input from the director of career and technical education. And School Board members knew that an automotive program was in the works at nearby Germanna Community College.
The school division is now exploring a partnership with Germanna, which recently opened its automotive program about two miles away from Stafford High.
Board members previously considered busing Stafford High students to automotive programs at North Stafford and Brooke Point high schools. But Scott Horan, assistant superintendent of facilities, told the board that those programs are too crowded to accommodate all of Stafford High's students.
Some 115 students are enrolled in Stafford High's auto program.
"This program is not going away," Johnson said of the school's auto program. "It might be removed from Stafford High School, but it's not going away."
Board members remain committed to offering the program to any interested student. And some members said they still hope the program can stay on school grounds.
School Board member Dewayne McCosker said he's determined to "make sure we get this thing built on site and find a way to pay for it."
But the options for keeping it on site aren't cheap. Horan said the program could be added to the new school for about $1 million. But this would delay the project for a year and take space from other classrooms and programs. Another option is to house the program in a detached building on school grounds for about $3 million.
"If I had a money tree in my backyard, I would personally pick $3 million off of it for this," Johnson said. "I know it's an important program for the county as a whole. But we have $66 million. That's what was approved for the project, and we need to remain within that amount."
The school division plans to start seeking bids for the project by January.
Board member Nanette Kidby said that she hopes a bid will come in for under $66 million, so the school division would have enough money to include the program.
WHAT ABOUT THE FIELDS?
School Board members also are considering options for Stafford High's sports teams.
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.