The Prince William County Board of Supervisors has approved the first step toward construction of a $1.5 million administration complex at Independent Hill that will bring the school system's administrative employes together under one roof for the first time. School administrative buildings now are scattered throughout several locations on Tudor Lane and Independent Hill.
The supervisors voted 5 to 2 last week to accept two parcels of land declared surplus by the county School Board. The land will be sold and the money used to build the administration complex. The two tracts, totaling 40 acres (15 of them at Tudor Lane and 25 acres at Godwin Drive) and located in Manassas, will be sold by the county to the City of Manassas for $1.1 million.
The balance of construction funds will come out of the county budget, the supervisors said.
The School Board set special conditions under which the supervisors could sell the land. All interest earned by the money from the sale of the land would go to the School Board to offset inflation and rising construction costs, and the School Board would be allowed to continue to use the Tudor Lane facilities to house staff members rent-free until the new buildings are finished. Manassas City Manager Macon Sammons said that the Godwin property will be used for the construction of a fourth elementary school; the Tudor Lane parcel will contain some recreational facilities and probably some city school administration buildings, he said.
A 13-acre site near Montclair also was declared surplus and accepted by the board; however, county officials have indicated that the parcel will not be sold but will be turned over to the Prince William Park Authority for recreational facilities, as reqested by the Montclair Property Owners Association.
The two dissenting votes on the sale of the two parcels were cast by Neabsco Supervisor John Jenkins and Brentsville Supervisor Joseph Reading. Jenkins has said repeatedly that he opposes the building of a school complex because "the need is for increased teacher salaries and more instructional facilities." Reading voted against the proposal because, he said, "The interest accrued by the $1.1 million belongs to the county and should go to the county."
The board also adopted an emergency fire prevention code after being told by deputy county attorney Liz Whiting that the original code, adopted in 1981, had not met state advertising requirements. Whiting said fire prevention codes in Virginia are adopted in conjunction with state legislation, which requires more detailed advertising of the code than the county published.
A recent challenge to the code by a local businessman brought the oversight to the county attorney's attention, Whiting said. The emergency code will be in effect for 60 days, by which time advertising requirements will be met and the new code duly adopted by the board, Whiting said.