Loudoun County Public Schools administrators are planning to delay building five new schools because of lower enrollment numbers,.
Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis briefed the School Board on the proposed changes to the district’s Capital Improvements Program on Monday.
The construction of three elementary schools—ES- 24 in central Loudoun and ES-37 and ES-38 in undesignated areas—will be deferred by two years and will now be scheduled to open during fall 2032, 2033 and 2024, respectively. The construction of two middle schools, the locations of which are so far undesignated, will be delayed by three years. MS-19 is now scheduled to open in fall 2033, and MS-15 in fall 2035.
The division will also add an additional year to the construction timelines for all five of the schools, Lewis said, because projected economic growth and demand for construction work will lead to fewer bids on projects, and ultimately, slower building processes. Lewis said it is becoming increasingly difficult to complete building projects on time.
“I’ve been a part of over 55 of these construction projects. Loudoun County is the only school system I’ve met in the entire country that builds schools on the timeline that we do,” Lewis said. “We’ve been just on time a number of times, but our luck’s going to run out in some point in time.”
Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) asked if there are any cost implications in building schools on a longer timeline. Lewis said there is no definitive way to determine that yet, but the new schedule might be beneficial to the budget.
“I do believe that we pay a premium in asking a contractor to build a school in less time than we need to build a school,” he said. “The flipside of that, it costs more money to run a company for that amount of time.”
The planned new schools that are impacted by the longer construction timelines are those that have not yet been funded. The district is set to build two new schools that are already funded, and thus are slated to be completed on a shorter timeline.
ES-32, which will be built next to Hovatter Elementary School in Aldie, will take only three years to build and will open in fall 2025. MS-14, located at the Hartland community, also in Aldie, will be built in four years, opening fall 2028.
The board will again review the proposed plans and hold a public hearing on Nov. 29. The capital plan will then be presented to the School Board for adoption during its Dec. 14 meeting.