ACPS Interim Superintendent Lois F. Berlin has unveiled a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget for FY 2019-2028, in line with the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Joint City-Schools Facilities Investment Task Force, with a focus on increasing elementary and high school capacity.
The ten-year CIP budget totals $459 million and includes funding for land or property acquisition, a new high school building, and the modernization of Douglas MacArthur and George Mason Elementary Schools and Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. It also includes new purpose-built swing space and a new gym for the West End Elementary School as among the most urgent projects for ACPS in the next few years. The proposed total funding for projects is $20.4 million more than the funding for the next nine years that was recommended to be allocated to the schools last month by the Joint City-Schools Facilities Investment Task Force. It includes funding to maintain buildings where modernization projects have been deferred for several years.
The capacity projects in this proposed CIP budget include an emphasis on planning and feasibility studies of possible sites for expansion and construction. The ten-year proposed CIP includes Task Force recommendations for modernized or new school buildings for Douglas Macarthur, George Mason and Cora Kelly as well as a study, planning and construction for increased high school capacity. Planning for and construction of a new school that can serve as swing space and become an additional school for ACPS, is also included. Our numbers show that we are already 1,600 students above capacity. This will increase to 2,000 in five years’ time, even with the addition of seats at the new Patrick Henry School, new West End Elementary School and early college. We need to act now in order to accommodate this growth in the future,” said Dr. Berlin.
This year, pre-K through grade five accounts for 8,785 of the total 15,500 students in our schools, which is 1,189 seats over capacity. In five years, even with the addition of the West End Elementary School, ACPS is projected to be more than 800 seats over capacity. In addition, the high school is currently close to 150 seats over capacity.
The CIP proposes $53.5 million for rebuilding and adding capacity to Douglas MacArthur Elementary School for completion in 2025 and $45.8 million for rebuilding and adding capacity to George Mason Elementary School for completion in 2027. Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology would also undergo modernization for completion in 2029 at a cost of $32 million. The three projects together would help relieve capacity at elementary schools across ACPS.
The CIP budget includes $4.6 million allocated to build a gym for the West End Elementary School to be completed in 2021. It also allocates funds for relocatables to address capacity needs until expansion of more permanent buildings is complete. The funds provided for a new school that can serve as a swing space for schools undergoing replacement could then become an additional school and further add capacity. The CIP also proposes $124.2 million for building a new high school to be completed by 2023 and $30 million for land acquisition.
Much of the work of the Joint City-Schools Facilities Investment Task Force has centered on projects that will help resolve some of the capacity issues that ACPS is facing. The CIP is also aligned with Goal 4 of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan–which focuses on providing optimal learning environments–and priorities of the School Board.
The CIP allows for the development of a joint facilities master plan with the City, joint feasibility studies and joint exploration of alternative options. It allocates funds for interim solutions to alleviate over-capacity and maintain buildings prior to modernization taking place. And, the CIP supports continued coordination with the City and partners to advance capacity projects through flexible zoning and public-private partnerships.