The Prince William County School Board last week approved a $76,400 contract for the design of a 7,500-square-foot school administration complex to be built at Independent Hill. The contract was awarded to the Fairfax architectural firm of Greenhorn & O'Mara. The $1.5 million complex, which will bring the school system's employes under one roof for the first time, will be paid for in part with the proceeds from the sale of two parcels of land the School Board declared surplus last month and turned over to the Board of Supervisors for disposition.
The city of Manassas has agreed to buy the parcels (15 acres on Tudor Lane and 25 acres on Godwin Drive in Manassas), but the supervisors delayed approval of the sale until this week because they had not received the deeds to the tracts by last week's board meeting. The balance of the construction funds will come out of the county budget.
The board approved a capital improvements program of more than $37.2 million for fiscal 1986-90, which was amended to include an addition to the Dumfries Elementary School. Because of crowding, the school has been using five trailers since 1964 to house students. Although 110 students will be transferred when a new elementary school on Cardinal Drive opens in September, two trailers will still be necessary, Dumfries board member Maureen Caddigan told the board in her appeal for the addition.
"With all the rezoning going on in this county, we can expect more growth in our area, and the time to plan for it is now," Caddigan said. According to housing administrator Charles Wildman, eight elementary and four middle schools currently use trailers to relieve crowding. The Dumfries amendment was passed in a 5-to-2 vote despite the lack of a funding source and figures on the proposed cost, both of which usually are required for capital improvement projects before they can be approved. The projected addition would be constructed in fiscal year 1986-87, the board said.
Neabsco member Regis Lacy argued unsuccessfully that a bond referendum for a seventh high school should be moved up from 1987 to 1986. He said Prince William has a "history of turning down bond referendums, and we may need two chances at it." The school staff had recommended that a seventh high school be built by 1989 to relieve crowding at Osbourn Park, Woodbridge, Potomac and Gar-Field high schools.
In refusing to change the date, board members said that moving up the bond referendum one year would not give them enough time to prepare for it. "If we did it that way," said Chairman Gerard Cleary, "we'd lose anyway."
For the second consecutive time, the board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., did not start until 9 p.m. In a private session, the board spent the three hours dealing with student expulsions. Since last September, five students have been expelled from county high schools for drug-related problems, school information officer Kristy Larson said. "These expulsions are the hardest decisions that we have to make," Cleary said later, "but they are the most important decisions we can make regarding a child's future. I don't like to rush them."
Parents of the child slated for expulsion and their attorneys meet with the board and superintendent Richard Johnson behind closed doors. The meetings formerly were held after the regular board meeting, Cleary said, "but we were too tired to do them justice. We think it's more important to deal with student matters first and business matters second."
Vice Chairman George Mullin requested a cost breakdown of the board agenda information books after representatives from parent and teacher groups objected again to the board's recent decision to supply the books only to board members, the staff and the media. Group leaders asked the board how much money it saves by not printing the extra books, which sometimes contain as many as 100 pages.
Cleary and Johnson said they did not have a dollar figure. After the group leaders offered to buy the books at a dime a page, Johnson said the cost of printing did not include staff time. Mullen asked that Johnson determine the cost involved and report back to the board.
The board denied a grievance to a teacher who had asked for personal leave rights and a day's pay because she had taken the day off to work for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee Oct. 28. Susan Kircher, a biology teacher at Osbourn Park High School, had filed a grievance with the board when the pay was originally denied. The board denied the grievance because, it said, personal leave must be used only for "personal or emergency matters beyond the control of the employe."