Funding Secured for West End School

A transfer of funds for the new West End School was approved by the City Council last week, clearing the way for ACPS to move ahead with the purchase of the building.

The School Board has until the end of March to complete its study of the office building at 1701 North Beauregard Street. The building will then be reviewed by the City to ensure it meets their Concept II Development Special Use Permit on March 31. If it meets all the requirements and receives School Board approval, the purchase of the building take place in mid-April.

The $4.5 million transfer of funds from the School’s Operating Budget to the School’s Capital Improvement Program Budget that was approved last week ensures all the necessary funding to purchase and retrofit the building. The transfer was needed because, part way through negotiations, the building owners made a decision to sell the building rather than rent it. Funds for leasing a building come out of the Operating Budget, while funds for purchasing a building come out of the Capital Improvement Program Budget.

Purchasing the building will prove far more cost-effective for ACPS in the long-term, with a potential savings of approximately $28 million over ten years or $64 million over twenty years based on the initial lease terms, current purchase price, and other anticipated costs to retrofit the building.

We would like to thank the City Manager and City Planning and Zoning staff for their collaboration and consultation on this project. ACPS is very pleased to receive their assessment that no ‘show stoppers’ remain. We look forward to working together on this project, which aligns with the jointly-approved Long Range Educational Facilities Plan, which calls for an urban school approach,” said School Board Chair Ramee Gentry.

ACPS plans to begin remodeling work on the building over the summer. The work is scheduled to be completed by fall 2018, in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year. The opening new West End school coincides with ACPS plans to implement the new school boundaries in the fall of 2018 and addresses some of the urgent capacity needs that ACPS is facing.

The plan is to convert the former office building into an elementary school for 650 students. The purchase would include the parking garage adjacent to the building, part of which would be converted into outdoor space for students.

As space in urban settings becomes more constrained, other school divisions have already proven that this model works. One example of office space successfully converted to a school is Bailey’s Upper Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences Sciences in Fairfax School Division.

ACPS, Ferdinand Day