The high cost of materials and difficulty in finding skilled labor have delayed the groundbreaking for a Roman Catholic high school planned for eastern Prince William County. That school and one planned in South Riding would be the first new secondary schools in the Diocese of Arlington since 1983.
The diocese is undertaking a comprehensive review of all its projects, said spokesman Soren Johnson, but still plans to build both schools. The target opening dates are 2006 for the Prince William school and 2007 for the Loudoun school. Funding comes from a 2001 capital campaign that raised $115 million.
Earlier this year, officials with the diocese planned a fall groundbreaking on the 40-acre parcel the diocese owns in the Cherry Hill development of Prince William, along the Route 1 corridor. The diocese's review is expected to last through the end of the year, Johnson said, and construction start dates have not yet been determined.
"The rebound and subsequent boom in the Northern Virginia economy have resulted in price increases and shortages in skilled labor," Johnson said. "This review is really to ensure that all the diocesan projects are successful."
The Diocese of Arlington comprises 21 counties and cities from the Northern Virginia suburbs all the way through Virginia's Eastern Shore. There are six Catholic high schools in the diocese. Three -- Paul VI in Fairfax City, Bishop O'Connell in Arlington and Bishop Ireton in Alexandria -- are run by the diocese and have long waiting lists. Seton School in Manassas, Oakcrest School in McLean and Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg are associated with the diocese but privately run.
The diocese's school population is among the fastest-growing in the country, Johnson said, mirroring the growth seen in the area's public schools. Catholic school enrollment has grown 32 percent in the past 10 years and now stands at more than 18,000 students in the 42 Catholic schools in the diocese. About 2,000 children in all grade levels are on waiting lists.
Parishioners broke ground in Loudoun County last October for a Catholic church, Our Lady of Hope, and a grade school on 12 acres in Cascades.
The school will enroll 250 children in kindergarten through eighth grade when it opens in late summer 2005 and might eventually be expanded to hold 500 students.
It will be Loudoun's second parochial grade school; there is one in Ashburn, St. Theresa.