Capital facilities are a continual issue that the school board has to closely manage. Property values, community connections, bus routes, academic programs, and ultimately a child’s success is impacted by capital facilities and boundary decisions. The five year Capital Improvement Program outlines how FCPS goes about addressing issues of growth, overcrowding, renovation, new construction, etc.
Fairfax County voters have continually signaled their approval of capital construction through the bond referendum process which overwhelmingly passes each year its on the ballot, usually with about 75% of the vote. That said, there is still a significant delta between the funding, and the needs, about $200m per year to be exact. This gap comes from deferred maintenance, growth caused by new development, and growth attributed to kids aging through the system.
How do we tackle this problem? First and foremost the bond capacity needs to be increased. Additionally, the legacy proffer system needs to be modernized to prioritize schools over pet projects. Finally, the Board of Supervisors and the School Board need to work together to determine a single system for prioritizing capital improvements based on community needs, age of the building, and a basic cost-benefit analysis of a renovation. An independent contractor should be brought in to assist with this process. School owned buildings and county-owned buildings should be graded together by an independent authority, with direction from both boards, to determine the priority of need.