Bluestone Elementary School (BES) opened on Garber’s Church Road in August, and accommodates 755 students. This new school, along with redistricting, relieved overcrowding in the lower grades. It’s a beautiful school that will serve city families by delivering excellent education for decades to come.
The most expensive school is not really the issue. The questions should be: does it meet student and staff needs now and into the future? Is it an efficient building and was it responsibly built (i.e., keeping costs low while not compromising the first two)? Although BES is brand new, it is NOT, contrary to local reports, the most expensive elementary school in the state of Virginia. Discovery STEM (Newport News), Devlin and Kilby Elementary (Prince William), Stafford Co and Lexington’s new elementary schools had higher projected construction costs. From the Virginia Department of Education web site, for example:
Looking at costs in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the costs of Bluestone are not out of line with other construction costs in the state. Also, BES included road construction costs, which is not something other cities include in their school construction costs.
HCPS, has acted in good faith, but needs to be fully transparent with Council on costs associate with HHS2. School board must provide a more complete list of costs and keep the process fully transparent. If we all act together and work in this manner, we can ensure that HHS2 is the school we need for now and the future and is built in a way that is sensitive to cost while making sense for educating our students.