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

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Board votes 4-3 for high school to be rebuilt

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 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 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. No word right now on where that idea stands.