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Falls Church Council Gets First Whiff of Options For New High School, Seeks Cost Savings

NEW FALLS CHURCH SCHOOL Superintendent Peter Noonan (far right) addressed the F.C. City Council as it began to mull the campus improvement project this Monday night. (Photo: News-Press)

The Falls Church City Council Monday was presented with the best choices by the School Board for options to construct a new George Mason High School and came away more interested in ways that costs could be shaved off the $110 million price tag for the board’s first choice. The clock is ticking down the time the Council has to determine if the matter will go to the public in a school bond referendum this November.

The options presented by consultants to the School Board last week were rehashed to the Council Monday night (and will be in a public forum this Saturday at 9 a.m. at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School), and they all came in above $100 million, with add-ons to the cost expected to be 5 percent every year the decision is delayed.

As per the tasking from the board, the consultants also presented a range of cost saving measures from reducing the number of classrooms by 10, the size of a performing arts center, reductions in the athletic programs, which combined could save up to $15 million or so. But, in addition to the fact that the Council wants to mull the prospect for economic development from a maximum of 10 acres of the 36 acre site to offset the cost of a new school, it showed interest in the range of cost saving measures, as well.

After the community meeting this Saturday, the matter comes back to the Council next Monday night.