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$1.3 billion LCPS Capital Improvement Program approved

A six-year, $1.3 billion Capital Improvement Program was approved by Loudoun County Public Schools board members on Tuesday.

The 2024-2029 plan includes building three new elementary schools and one new middle school and high school to accommodate anticipated enrollment increases. The county’s population swelled from 169,600 in 2000 to 420,959 in 2020 — a 148% increase — according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The approximately 83,000-student school district, is the third largest in Virginia and has 98 schools.

The plan includes $221 million for a new Park View High School at 400 W. Laurel Ave., in Sterling. The 295,000-square-foot school, expected to open in August 2027, will accommodate up to 1,800 students. The current school opened in 1976 and houses 1,450 students. At recent board meetings, Park View parents, students and staff have lobbied for a new school contending conditions are deteriorating at the school.

Park View graduate and Parent Teacher Student Association President Amy Gazes told board members before the vote that efforts to get a new school built, rather than the current one renovated, have been difficult. Efforts included neighborhood canvassing, holding meetings, circulating petitions, and social media outreach.

“It’s been a ton of hard work and effort and every second worth it for these kids,” she said. “What seemed like an impossible, uphill battle has now come to fruition.”

While a new Park View is being built, Banneker Elementary School at 35231 Snake Hill Road in Middleburg is being renovated rather than replaced. Named after Benjamin Banneker, an 18th century Black astronomer, historian, surveyor, slavery opponent and Baltimore-area resident, it opened as a segregated school for Black students in 1948. White students didn’t attend Banneker until 1968 due to Virginia’s 12-year “Massive Resistance” battle against integration.

Due to its history, some residents of the Village of St. Louis, which is one of Loudoun’s first Black townships and located near the school, have opposed building a new school. However, teacher Amy Cornell, who supports preserving the building, but replacing it as a school, said the school is outdated. She said support for building preservation has trumped the welfare of students and staff.

“There’s a difference between being passionate about a building and being passionate about a school,” she said. “Put the children first.”

Nonetheless, Kevin L. Lewis, LCPS chief operating officer, told board members the school can be modernized and the school district has a “huge obligation” to preserve it.

“Banneker is the last building we have in the county that was built for the Black community that is still operating as a school,” he said. “That’s extremely important to this community.”

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