vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

Check here for the latest reports on news from Stafford County. You can email her at

RSS feed of this blog

Milde to ask for referendum on high school rebuild

Aquia Supervisor Paul Milde says he is making a “last ditch effort” at tonight’s board meeting to halt the rebuild of Stafford High School.

A longtime opponent of the project, Milde wrote in an e-newsletter today that he wants voters to decide if the $70 million project is worth it.

Discussion is planned for tonight’s agenda, following the several public hearings at 7 p.m.

The email shows photos of three buildings in Stafford: Edward E. Drew Middle School, the school administration building and the Rowser building. “They have all served as high schools in Stafford and they are all still standing and being put to good use,” Milde wrote.

“As a matter of fact, you will be hard pressed to find an example anywhere in the State where a brick school has been torn down in a rural setting to make room for another similar sized school.

That begs the question; Why is the Chairman and the majority on the Stafford BoS dead set on spending $70 million+ to tear down Stafford High and rebuild instead of saving at least $35 million and doing a top notch renovation? Culpepper is remodeling their high school of similar age (1969) and size for $19 million.

The Stafford School Board already owns over 100 acres near the Leeland VRE that is designated as our next (and 6th) high school site and since we are within 200 seats of being over capacity county-wide in all five high schools combined, we will need more high school seats very soon. The problem is that we don’t have the borrowing capacity programmed to build that next high school if we squander this $35 million (or about 2 cents of the tax rate) on this pet project.

We may not be able to stop this but I wanted you to be aware of the situation because sooner or later the bill for this mistake will come due. The existing Stafford High School should remain standing and either be renovated and kept in use as a high school or converted to a Career and Technical Education Center (thus adding an additional 1000 seats to our High School capacity county wide).

Design work for the school is complete, though there have been concerns about the lack of an auto tech center and the temporary loss of practice fields. The county authorized the school to borrow funds from VPSA. So far, $9 million of the project has been funded. The application calls for a borrow of $9 million in the fall, and $8.7 million in the spring. The project is expected to be put out to bid in December, with construction starting next July and being done in December 2015.