Chairman Ilryong Moon said the Fairfax board hopes other jurisdictions understand that fairness argument.
“I believe that all participating school districts know well the value of opportunities that TJ brings to their students,” Moon said.
Several board members in other counties said that the Fairfax decision blindsided them and that the costs appear out of proportion for a renovation.
“When we think of renovations, numbers like $90 million don’t make sense. . . . That was not something we thought was in the realm of possibilities,” Fox said. “We built a whole new high school for $90 million.”
Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington school administrators said through spokesmen that they are evaluating the proposal and that it was too early to comment.
Fauquier County Public Schools had already pulled its students out of the high school; they have a governor’s school of their own, and “it was an expense we just couldn’t justify,” said county School Board Chairman Donna Grove.
Toni Jones, the superintendent of Falls Church public schools, said that removing city students from the program would be a decision left for the board.
“We are very concerned,” Jones said. “In such tough budget times, spending money to build somebody else’s capital project is something we need to discuss with the school board. Especially when that would be taking money away from students we already have.”
Laura Fifer, whose daughter is a sophomore at TJ, said her family chose TJ over the Loudoun Academy of Science because of its advanced curriculum. “It would be pretty bad for my daughter” if the partnership were cut short suddenly, Fifer said. “The Academy of Science isn’t built up to TJ’s level right now. It would be a difficult transition for the kids already enrolled at TJ.”
Any change would have to be a community decision, said Loudoun board member Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin), who doesn’t support uprooting students enrolled there now. “With our growth and the growth that’s expected, we should be putting our dollars into a local resource if we can do it.. . . It has to be the will of the community because the community [would have to] fund it through tax dollars.”