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Sixth high school needed in Stafford

Stafford County needs to invest in a sixth high school to support the growing population in the southern end of the county.

That’s according to Stafford schools’ Capital Improvement Planning Advisory Committee, which presented its year-end report to the Stafford School Board Tuesday night.

The final report follows a bruising interim report the committee gave in May, saying the current capital-improvement plan won’t keep pace with the county’s student-population capacity requirements.

The current CIP has slated expansions for Brooke Point, Mountain View and Colonial Forge high schools, each of which is expected to accommodate an additional 200 students.

The expansions are expected to be completed in 2019.

But those additions only respond to generalized growth instead of targeting projects where growth is expected, such as the western and southern parts of the county, the committee said in its report.

Currently, many students in the southern end of the county experience “significant bussing” to the northern end of the county to attend Colonial Forge or Mountain View, the committee said in the report.

The committee recommended that a sixth high school be located at a county-owned property in the southern end of the county, next to the Westlake development. That property has access to public utilities.

In its interim report, the committee also called into question the way in which county growth and student-population forecast data had been collected.

Since the interim report, the School Board decided to use remaining funds in their contract with Operations Research & Education in order to receive a student-membership forecast through 2024 and updated information on land use throughout the county.

Looking forward, the committee suggested that the school board develop communication strategies with stakeholders. That suggestion came after Thomas Coen—a committee member, teacher with the Commonwealth Governor’s school and Stafford planning commissioner—and other committee members visited several schools.

“There was a concern at all levels about having input into the process,” Coen said.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975