The Prince William County School Board is scheduled for a long-awaited vote Wednesday on a controversial plan to build an indoor aquatics facility attached to its 12th high school.
The pool, which would be the county’s first at a high school, has become a symbol of wasteful spending to a vocal contingent of parents who argue that the school district has much more pressing issues than a lack of lane space for county swimmers to contend with. Chief among them: Class size. Prince William has the largest classes in the state.
“It’s like saying, the air conditioning, blew but we are going to get granite countertops,” said Kim Simons, a parent blogger and pool opponent.
County supervisors and school board members have agreed that they want to reduce class sizes, but they say it will involve a sizable investment over multiple years to see meaningful results. A much greater investment, some say, than the $8.4 million price tag for the pool.
School officials recommend that the board approve a $97.9 million bid from the Christman Co., a national firm with an office in Reston, for construction of the 12th high school. Without the aquatics center, the project would cost $89.5 million.
Final approval for the high school has hit other snags. Most recently, an old cemetery was uncovered as land was being cleared for the school’s sports complex. Now officials are trying to identify the bodies and decide where they should be re-interred. Some residents who believe the graves may belong to their ancestors said they would like the bodies to remain on the same property.