The Daily News Record (DN-R) reported on School Board meetings to discuss crowding problems in HHS as early as February, 2008. The city’s 2009 Comprehensive Plan included discussion of overcrowding. So we’re not rushing here, we’re finishing up a process that’s been going on informally for nearly a decade, and very formally since April, 2015, looking for a solution to a problem that is getting worse every week.
The timing is critical because any solution comes with a lag—the time it takes to design and build. New school facilities can’t open in February, or October; they must open at the start of the school year. The urgency also comes from growth—the increases in number of children pouring into a system, and especially into a high school that is bursting at the seams. The overcrowding is severe and is affecting student learning and safety. As the economy continues to strengthen, the cost of every solution rises. Construction costs are increasing fast (Arlington is reportedly preparing a new high school for over $140 million, and Loudoun County is readying one for over $100 million). Interest rates costs are going to increase. Every month we wait not only delays a real solution to the problem, but will cost us more money. Deciding to act sooner is much cheaper than choosing to delay.