John A. Andrews II, a Loudoun County School Board candidate, said last week that the school system could build schools more cheaply.
Taking on one of the most controversial issues facing the rapidly growing school district, Andrews said he would seek to build schools "more efficiently." He didn't specify how, except to say that he would appoint a committee from the private sector to review design, engineering and construction plans.
He also said he would not use cheaper or less durable materials, nor would he skimp on the number of windows in school buildings.
"I strongly believe we can cut construction costs by 10 percent," said Andrews, a developer and president of the Loudoun chapter of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. He is running in the Broad Run District.
Countywide, school enrollment is growing about 10 percent each year, leading officials to project a need for 22 new schools during the next six years to accommodate the influx.
Andrews's comments, which came during a candidates forum Wednesday, are in contrast with a recent study released by school officials indicating that Loudoun has among the lowest school construction costs in the state.
The forum was the first meeting of all School Board candidates since June and was sponsored by the Loudoun Education Alliance of Parents. LEAP President Mark Gunderman said the organization does not endorse candidates.
There are nine seats on the School Board, but four candidates are running unopposed: Chairman Joseph W. Vogric (Dulles), Vice Chairman Harry F. Holsinger (Blue Ridge), and J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) and Geary M. Higgins (Catoctin), who are newcomers without opposition.
Dean W. Coursen, the Republican candidate in the Mercer District, was the only candidate who did not attend Wednesday's forum at J.L. Simpson Middle School in Leesburg. Coursen said he had an important campaign meeting he wouldn't reschedule. He is running against another newcomer, Patrick F. Chorpenning Jr..
The other candidates are incumbents Candyce P. Cassell (Sugarland Run), Jeffrey M. Maged (Leesburg), Wendell T. Fisher (At-Large) and Susan N. Hembach (Broad Run).
Edward L. "Lee" Ostrander, who is endorsed by the local Republican Party, is challenging Cassell. Maged faces Frederick F. Flemming, and Fisher is running against Thomas E. "Tom" Reed.
Hembach has the toughest contest of any incumbent, running against both Andrews and Michele Zuckerman, an active parent volunteer.