Summary of Community Meeting on School Facilities
Reston Association Headquarters
July 24, 2018 - 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Reston – of the “Top 10” takeaways from the meeting held on July 24, 2018 to discuss proposals to increase density in Reston, and their impact on schools and school facilities. It also includes a summary of information requested from the county and school representatives, which would be a topic for our next meeting (to be scheduled).
Participating from Coalition for a Planned Reston were Andy Sigle and Sridhar Ganesan, President and Vice President (respectively) of Reston Association, Moira Callaghan, Todd Shea, Bob Petrine, and Stuart Gibson.
Participating from Fairfax County and Fairfax County Public Schools were Pat Hynes, School Board Member, Hunter Mill District; Leslie Johnson, Fairfax County Zoning Administration; and Kevin Sneed, Director, Office of Design & Construction, Fairfax County Public Schools.
Also attending: Goldie Harrison, Office of Supervisor Hudgins; John Carter, Planning Commission Member, Hunter Mill District; Howard Perlstein, Hunter Mill District Representative, FCPS Facilities Planning Advisory Council.
Top 10 Takeaways
1. There is ample space in Reston's elementary, middle, and high schools to accommodate, in the short to medium-term, student growth that might come from new development in the transit corridor and in the village centers.1 As a result, the school system is not actively seeking to acquire or considering acquiring land for another school site in Reston, such as at Isaac Newton Square, Baron Cameron Regional Park, or Lake Fairfax Park.
2. There will not be ample space to accommodate growth in 20 years. And at that time, land will be even scarcer and more expensive than it is in 2018.
3. Contrary to the commitment in the County's comprehensive plan to build infrastructure ahead of planned development, that is not how the school system operates. The school system does not have the funding necessary to build new schools and new capacity until it is necessary. Indeed, it does not have enough money to build and renovate schools in accordance with its own policies.
4. The school system calculates projected student yields from proposed development and redevelopment according to an outdated county-wide formula mandated by the County. The school system would like to update the formula to take into account regional differences within the county. But thus far, it has not been able to do so.
5. Similarly, school-facilities-related proffers are calculated according to a formula mandated by the County. The school system would like to renegotiate that formula to more accurately reflect the true capital costs associated with new development. But so far that has not happened. And it would appear that any new formula will only be applied prospectively. As a planned residential community, Reston is exempt from some aspects of Virginia law restricting the ability to obtain proffers.
6. The school system does not conduct any sort of review of its enrollment projections from planned development after the project has been built. As a result, it has no systematic way of determining the accuracy of the existing formulas. (This may be because the school system's facilities planning office is staffed by just 4 people, most of whom have worked there for less than 2 years.)
7. The school system does not conduct any sort of analysis of the impact of proposed development on the transportation of students, such as whether new routes or additional buses are needed, or how increased traffic from new development affects travel times.
8. Most of the need for new schools in Western Fairfax County is being driven by development in the Centreville Road/Route 28/Dulles Toll Road corridors, and in the Fairfax/Oakton area. The school system has already raised the money to build a new elementary school in the Fairfax/Oakton area, and plans to build a new high school on the 38-acre site of Hutchison Elementary School in Herndon. It is addressing growth at the 1,400-student McNair Elementary School by building what amounts to a second school on the same piece of property. At $2.5 - $3 million/acre ($125-$150 million for a 50-acre site) it is too expensive to buy the land required to build a new high school.
9. The school system is actively considering a second "urban" school (similar to Baileys 2), for the proposed "Silver Line" elementary school in the Western part of the Dulles transit corridor. They would seek to acquire space in a proposed building through the proffer route.
10. The School Board is beginning to coordinate more closely with the Planning
Commission. But that process started only recently and occurs only sporadically now.
Requests for Additional Information Ahead of Next Meeting
The Coalition representatives asked the County and School system representatives to provide the following information, in advance of our next meeting:
1. A list of approved and proposed developments to include the projected student yields from each project going back to 2008 for all schools serving Reston. To include application number, name, project status, proposed units, estimated students and school name.
2. A list of all residential development and redevelopment projects in Reston that have been built and occupied since 2008, showing for each project what FCPS projected the student yield to be and what the student yield actually is now.
3. Correspondence and other documentation concerning the efforts to (a) change the FCPS proffer formula, and (b) change the methodology for calculating student yields from proposed development projects, and a summary of the current status and schedule of upcoming meetings on each.
4. Please update the April 26, 2018 memorandum referred to in footnote 1, above, to include proposed developments added since that memorandum was prepared.
5. Please explain the apparent disconnect between enrollment projections in the school system’s adopted Capital Improvement Plan for 2019-2023, and the enrollment estimates from new development as outlined in the April 26, 2018 memorandum (or the most recent version of that memo) referenced in footnote 1 of this memo.
6. Please describe how Fairfax County Public Schools and Fairfax County plan to address the facilities needs of the more than 2,000 new students expected to be living in the planned and approved developments for Reston.
Prepared by Stuart D. Gibson
July 27, 2018
1 After the meeting, members of CPR reviewed the memo from Fairfax County Public Schools to Mary Ann Tsai, Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning, dated April 26, 2018, attached as Appendix 13 to the staff report on rezoning application RZ/FDP 2016-HM-007. According to that memo, applications for development in the South Lakes HS pyramid already approved and pending are projected to add approximately 1,900 – 2,100 students at 3 elementary schools (Sunrise Valley, Lake Anne, and Dogwood). Assuming proportional growth in the middle and high school population from these developments, those developments will cause all impacted schools (including Hughes and South Lakes) to exceed their program capacities.