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McLean Schools Likely to Remain Overcrowded for Years, Officials Warn

New development is underway across Tysons, but school officials believe it will take years yet for buildings to reach capacity.

In McLean, however, overcrowding at all levels is a problem that’s likely going to get worse over the next few years.

According to the Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), McLean High School and nearly all of the schools that feed into it will be over capacity by the start of the 2020-2021 school year. While additions are planned for West Potomac, Justice, and Madison High Schools, there are no plans in the CIP for major additions to McLean High School.

McLean High School is currently at 114 percent capacity and is projected to go up to 127 percent capacity by the 2022 school year, as the school built to handle 1,993 students welcomes 2,524. Over the next few years, the CIP says temporary classrooms, modular additions and boundary changes are possible for McLean High School.

The elementary schools feeding into McLean High School — Chesterbrook, Franklin Sherman, Haycock, Kent Gardens, and Timber Lane — also face challenges in the coming years. Chesterbrook, Haycock, and Kent Gardens all exceed 100 percent capacity and projections from the school show that overcrowding continuing for at least the next five years. Kent Gardens currently has 117 percent capacity and is projected to reach 119 percent of its capacity next year.

More temporary classrooms are proposed for Chesterbrook, Haycock and Kent Gardens, with new modular facilities or building additions at Chesterbrook and Kent Gardens. New boundary changes are also possible for Haycock and Kent Gardens.

Marshall High School, which covers the Tysons area, fares a little better in terms of overcrowding than McLean. The school is currently at 95 percent capacity and isn’t projected to reach 100 percent capacity until the 2023 school year.

The only Tysons-area elementary school facing severe overcrowding over the next five years is Shrevewood Elementary School, currently at 118 percent capacity and projected to increase to 125 percent capacity by 2023. Temporary classrooms, building additions, and boundary adjustment are all being considered as potential solutions to address overcrowding at Shrevewood.

While school staff downplayed the immediate impact of residential developments on schools, in the long run, the school CIP will need to include plans for a growing student population in the Tysons area.

“In addition to the estimated student yields, for comprehensive plan studies, recommendations to address future school facilities needs are provided to Fairfax County government,” staff wrote. “Recent long-range planning initiatives include [the] Tysons Urban Center, Merrifield Suburban Center, [and] McLean CBC.”

New residential developments are proposed to form the core of the downtown McLean Community Business Center. At least 4,000 new residential units are planned for the Spring Hill development alone, according to the Tysons Partnership.

By 2027, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) hopes to start planning for a new elementary school in the area to handle the youngest generation of Tysonians.

The FCPS 10-year Capital Improvement Plan shows planning for a new Tysons Elementary School FY 2027, and repurposing of the Pimmit Hills school a year later as an elementary school to provide capacity relief to other schools feeding into McLean High School.

FCPS documents show plans to seek funding for Tysons Elementary and the Pimmit Hills Repurposing in a 2025 referendum.

A public hearing for the CIP is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. in Luther Jackson Middle School (3020 Gallows Rd). A School Board decision on the CIP is scheduled for Jan. 24.

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