Jefferson-Houston options presented

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Last week the Alexandria School Board reviewed seven options for the renovation of Jefferson-Houston Elementary School, which has seen six principals in six years, dwindling enrollment and is not accredited under Virginias Standards of Learning because of failing Adequate Yearly Progress under the Federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act.

The options include the building of a new structure, based on the 600 student capacity Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School model and the annexing of a special-use facility for the several special education programs that Jefferson-Houston houses.

Jefferson-Houston enrollment for the 2007-2008 school year is currently 286 students, while 669 students attended the school in 2000.

The one-story school is currently 83,385 square feet, while a two-story Tucker-model school is 80,000 square feet and would require 10,000 additional square feet to allow for the inclusion of a special needs center.

School board chair Claire Eberwein presented an option to the board that was not on the table and will be discussed along with the others at the Dec. 13 work session.

Eberwein said that, although enrollment figures may rise with a new facility, a new school like the Tucker model was unnecessary. She proposed that a smaller school be built on school grounds while the existing facility eventually be converted into a special needs center.

According to ACPS staff, the current structures foundation can not support a second story.  

Option 1
Costing the least of all the options, would not upgrade or change the design of the open classrooms, which have been criticized by school staff and parents for inhibiting student learning.

New lighting and increased storage space would be added.

High end cost: $175,000

Option 2
The central office, library and computer room would be relocated and classrooms enlarged and reconfigured. Students would be moved to trailers for an entire school year during construction and there would be no space for returning out-of-district special needs students.

High end cost: $6,925,000

Option 3
The same as option 2, but incorporates additional classrooms for the special needs center.

High end cost: $10,611,317

Option 4
Building a new school based on the Tucker model, which, like the T.C. Williams construction, would allow students to stay in the current school while the new facility is built. This, the most expensive of all the options, could also incorporate a special needs center. 

High end cost: 15,636,317

Option 5
Converts the existing school into a special needs center and would close the school. Boundary adjustments would have to be made and all Jefferson-Houston students would be transferred to other ACPS schools.

High end cost: $5,869,725

Option 6
The school would be closed and the site would be used to house the ACPS central office staff.

All programs and leased space would be moved to this building. Again, boundary adjustments would have to be made and the students would be moved to other schools.

High end cost: $5,894,162

Option 7
The entire school would be closed and the site would not be used for any purpose. The building, if declared surplus, would revert to city control. There would be no special needs center and students would be shifted to other schools.

High end cost: $1,203,615

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