The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week refused to pass on to voters a two-year, $39.7 million school bond referendum. The supervisors voted unanimously to send it back to the county school board and asked instead for a one-year referendum for "essential" school construction that will cost $20 million or less.
Board members Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason) and Warren I. Cikins (D-Mount Vernon) argued that the proposed school bond referendum, which would finance construction and refurbishing of schools in the rapidly growing western part of Fairfax County, did not contain enough money for schools in their areas, in the older eastern part of the country.
Board Chairman John F. Herrity, claiming that "wisdom is the better part of valor," said the $39.7 million referendum would not have had much of a chance for voter approval in April without the unanimous support of the board's nine members.
Magazine said the referendum proposal sent back to the school board would not have gotten support in the eastern part of the country because it would "signal to people in the older part of the county that there would be no money for their schools for at least two years."
Alton Hlavin, director of design and construction for Fairfax County schools, said the board's vote was "very discouraging because we were here before."
The supervisors earlier this month asked the school board to cut its referendum proposal from $46.7 million to under $40 million and to specify which schools needed for refurbishing.
Hlavin said the board's decision this week to delay for one year almost $20 million in new school construction and renovations will cost Fairfax County taxpayers nearly $1.6 million because of an estimated 8 percent inflation in building costs over the next year.
The referendum rejected by the board would have financed the construction of five elementary schools and two secondary schools. The elementary schools were Mumford Park, Great Falls II, Herndon/North Reston, Rolling Valley West and Burke Centre. The secondary schools were Chantilly Intermediate and South Lakes Intermediate.
Construction money for five of the schools will be included in the one-year referendum proposal that the school board is expected to bring to the council for approval next Monday. They are Mumford Park, Great Falls II, Rolling Valley West, Burke Centre and Chantilly Intermediate.
In the proposed referendum rejected this week, the school board had asked for renovations at Centerville, Churchill, Woodley Hills and Kent Gardens elementary schools, at Long-fellow and Glasgow intermediate schools and at McLean and Fort Hunt high schools.
Supervisors asked the school board to include only "critically needed projects in the one-year proposal.