The Manassas School Board launched a community outreach campaign Tuesday night to collect input on how the district should handle projected growth that will add about 500 students to the school system over the next decade.
Estimates show the district will grow from the current enrollment of about 7,100 to 7,600 by the 2021-22 school year, according to a report by DeJong Inc., an Ohio firm that specializes in school facility planning.
The school board and Manassas City Council entered into an agreement over the summer to do a better job in planning for future school growth, said school Board Chairman Scott Albrecht. In June, the board hired DeJong, which presented the facilities alternatives plan Tuesday night.
“We need to get the community engaged,” Albrecht said. “We don’t see that the enrollment will go down. We want to see what the community wants to do about this growth. I have no preconceived notions, we are open to all alternatives.”
In the draft report, DeJong developed enrollment projections, future facility alternatives and a capacity analysis. The report is meant to help the school board evaluate what the school system needs for facilities based on future enrollment projections. DeJong included no cost estimates in the facilities analysis.
At the elementary school level, the report offers a list of alternatives to deal with an anticipated crunch of an additional 500 students. They range from making additions at the elementary schools, which could require some minor attendance boundaries changes, to the replacement of Baldwin Elementary as well as construction of a brand new elementary school. Capacity at Metz Middle School seems to be adequate, the report said.
However, there are projected capacity problems at Mayfield Intermediate School, which would not be able to handle a total of 1,200 students by the end of the decade. However, the report notes that if both Metz and Mayfield were converted to grades 5-8, they would have the space to accommodate 2,400 students.
Osbourn High School is at capacity and won’t be able to add enough seats for an additional 200 students, the report said. One solution would be to finish the renovation of the second floor of the Joseph B. Johnson Learning Center. The renovated space could house a cyber school or a thematic school, drawing students from across the district to specific programs, like classes in science, technology, engineering and math.
The planning sessions are important because the school board’s budget this year did not include $3 million dollars in its Capital Improvement Plan for new central offices. Some school board members had advocated for that plan, which would have provided a new site for a central office and freed up space along Tudor Lane to build a replacement school for Baldwin Elementary.
The next community dialogue session is set for Oct. 16 at Mayfield at 7 p.m.