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Split board backs new Stafford High
Stafford Supervisors decide to keep Stafford High School project on current path

Date published: 11/22/2012


An eleventh-hour attempt to revise plans for a new Stafford High School failed, meaning the project will continue on its current path.

Late Tuesday night, the county's Board of Supervisors debated the merits of rebuilding versus renovating the school.

Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde criticized demolishing a building valued at $36 million, saying it's not fiscally conservative to replace it with one that'll cost $66 million.

He originally suggested putting the project to a public referendum, but then asked to at least reconsider possibilities.

"There's so many good options out there, and I know some of them weren't discussed," Milde said.

A majority of the board voted to stand by the rebuild as planned, ending the debate that surfaced in the past few months.

The 4-3 vote reaffirmed a decision made by the School Board more than a year ago. Plans call for a 275,000-square-foot school, which is about 10,000 square feet smaller than the current school.

Supervisors Bob Thomas, Susan Stimpson, Gary Snellings and Ty Schieber said they wanted the matter put to rest, despite concerns from parents and students about the project's cost, the loss of the high school's automotive program and the disruption of athletic programs during construction.

Meanwhile, Milde, Jack Cavalier and Cord Sterling worried that the project wasn't fully thought out and set a bad precedent.

"We're putting all our eggs in one basket in regards to the schools," said Cavalier, returning for his first meeting since being struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 95. "There's always one [project] that's going to be a little less than the others but it can be remedied, but does it take $66 million to remedy it at the expense of others?"

At a joint meeting Monday night between some supervisors and School Board members, Thomas had suggested that a portion of the building be kept for career and technical education programs. It was unclear Wednesday what will happen to that proposal.

Also Tuesday, supervisors killed discussion of creating an at-large chairperson seat. A majority voted against asking the General Assembly for special legislation to put the question to a public referendum.

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Stafford County Public Schools' Facility Planning, Design and Construction Office will host a community information meeting about the project to rebuild Stafford High School on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Stafford High School Auditorium.

The rebuild is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013. The new school should be finished by December 2015.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, the building floor plans, site plans and schedule for construction will be presented and a question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.