The Fauquier County School Board has chosen a new site for the county's third high school and has delayed its scheduled opening for one year, to August 2008.

The school will be built on 305 acres on Route 602, one mile north of Dumfries Road and just outside of New Baltimore in one of the county's fastest-growing areas. The land, which belongs to the estate of Mabel V. Lunceford, could cost as much as $2.5 million, pushing the total cost of the school to about $60.5 million, said School Board Chairman Jay VanGelder (Cedar Run).

The purchase has been approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Lunceford site is zoned for rural agricultural use, and a special exception permit will be required before the school can be built.

"I'm ecstatic about moving forward. It's been a long time coming," VanGelder said.

In November, a committee chaired by VanGelder recommended a site on 74 donated acres on Dumfries Road less than two miles southwest of the chosen location. But in June, the Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 against extending water and sewer lines to the site. It also rejected special exceptions for an above-ground pumping station and reduced open space.

Opponents had said that providing the utilities would make the project too costly and that Dumfries Road, with its rolling hills, would be too dangerous for teenage drivers.

Concerns about driving could still be an issue at the new site because many students will rely on Dumfries Road, but getting access to public utilities could be a little easier, VanGelder said.

A water tower is already in the planning stages there, and although sewer lines will need to be extended, they won't have to go as far.

"It's not a bad deal," VanGelder said. "It's still in the location we need. It's a very doable site for us."

The new school is intended to relieve crowding at Liberty and Fauquier high schools, which are both more than 200 students over capacity. Many classes are being held in trailers outside the schools.

In a March referendum, Fauquier voters approved a $39.6 million bond issue to finance the school. VanGelder said the shortfall will be covered by cash reserves.