Fairfax County voters will be asked this spring to support $39.7 million in bond issues to pay for construction of seven new schools and renovation of nine others.
After considerable - and at times tumultuous - volleying back and forth between school board members and county supervisors, the supervisors this week gave bleesing to an April referendum.
THe school board overcame one obstacle by getting the support of the supervisors, without whose approval the referendum could not be held. The most difficult obstacle, however, appears to be getting voter approval. In the past five years, no school bond proposal for more than $24 million has passed Fairfax County.
Bonds are sold to pay for construction projects through long-term borrowing rather than from the county's operating revenues, which come chiefly from property taxes.
"I'm pleased, obviously, that the supervisors have given their approval," said school board chairman Rodney Page. "We have felt from the beginning that it (the bond proposal) was a strong one and it appears as though we have convinced the supervisors."
The supervisors stunned the school board members last week by asking them to consider a smaller package than the $39.7 proposal, one that would have paid only for building schools that are critically needed to relieve crowding. It was the second week in the row that the supervisors had asked the school board to make cuts in the bond proposal, which had started out at $46 million.
This week the supercisors voted 8-1 to support the $39.7 million figure, with supervisor Warren Cikins (D-Mt. Vernon) abstaining.
"It was a strategy thing," said board of supervisor chairman John F. Herrity, explaining why the supervisors this week approved the same bond proposal they sent back to the school board for more cuts last week. "Last week we were looking at the best strategy (to get the bonds passed). Now we've decided to leave it up to the voters. There was never any questionof the need for the bonds."
Both supervisors and school official acknowledge that getting voter approval will not be easy. Some say that because the bond proposal earmarks more money for new construction in rapidly developing areas of the county than for renovation of older schools, it will not be supported in older sections of the county. Several schools in the older areas are being considered for closing because of falling enrollment.
Other officials say that voters in older secstions have never supported school bonds, whether or not hey included money for renovations. Most officials agree that strong support from voters in the developing areas is the key element in getting the bonds passed.
"It's ggoing to be a tough campaign," said Superintedent S. John Davis. "But we have what I consider a solid proposal to put before the voters."
Most of the 39.7 million would be used to build seven new schools in the fast-growing northwest and southern areas of the county where schools are overcrowded. Reston, Herndon and Great Falls areas would get three new elementary schools and the Pohick area would get two elementary schools. Four of the elementary schools would open in September 1979 and the fifth would open the following September.
In addition, the bonds would pay for construction of two intermediate schools: Chantilly Intermediate, which would open in September 1979, and South Lakes Intermediate, which would open in September 1981.
he bond proposal includes about $10 million for improvements to eight older schools and the North County Center for the Emotionally Disturbed.
Renovations would be made at Centreville, Churchill, Woodley Hills and Kent Gardens elementary schools, Longfellow and Glasgow intermediate schools and McLean and fort Hunt high schools.
Renovations range from repainting at some schools to installation of new facilities and equipment at others.
Supervisor Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason), expressing the concerns of some residents in older areas of the some residents in older areas of the county, said he hopes to see the system give more attention to older school renovation in the future.
"This bond proposal is going to be acrutinized very carefully in older parts of the county," Magazine said. "People are going to be concerned when they look at the amount of construction money versus money for renewals."
In other action at this week's meeting, supervisors, with fresh memories of irate phone calls from constituents who were stuck in the big snow two weeks ago, called in the Virginia Highways Department's resident engineet to explain, for his seventh consecutive year, what went wrong.
Donald Keith, an engineer with a crew cut and a red, handlebar moustache, prefaced his remarks to the supervisors by reminging them that "public hangings are illegal."
Most of the complaints about impassable roads came from residents along roads in the county's many housing roads in the county's many housing subdivisions. Keith said the 1,700 miles of secondary roads in the county do not get the attention given main roads.
"We can't afford to sand second roads day in and day out," he said. He added that secondary roads cannot be salted, as are main roads, because of possible environmental damage.
Fairfax County uses more salt and sand now than many small northern states because of the freezing-thawing cycles, Keith said. He said that when snow melts, and falls to the roadway and when the snow freezes again at night the road has to be resanded.
Keith said 225 trucks are used for snow removal, 41 of them used exclusively in subdivisions. He also said that snow storms are too few and far between in Northern Virginia to justify greater expenditures for snow removal equipment.
In other action, the board approved a change in county that gives policy greater power to deny residents right to buy pistols.
The change will give the police chief the power to prohibit persons he or she judges "unfit" from buying a pistol. It will also deny to persons charged with a felony or convicted of a crime with involving a gun the right to purchase apistol.
The former law stopped only convicted felons from buying a weapon.