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Milde seeks 2013 referendum on $66.1 million reconstruction of Stafford High; School Board opposes proposal
BY KATIE THISDELL
A rebuild of Stafford High School could be put off for at least one year, forcing students and teachers to use the 37-year-old building longer than planned.
Supervisor Paul Milde has asked the Board of Supervisors to consider a referendum on the $66.1 million project, allowing voters to decide how to proceed. The board will decide at its Nov. 20 meeting whether to put the school rebuild on next year's ballot.
If supervisors agree with Milde, the move could effectively dismiss years of work on the plan to build a new school.
Members of the Stafford School Board hope the board doesn't take that route.
"There's no reason whatsoever that this needs to be on a bond referendum," said School Board Vice Chairwoman Meg Bohmke. "It makes absolutely no sense, except to someone that doesn't want to proceed with this project."
The $2.6 million design contract with Grimm and Parker Architects was awarded in May 2011. The county has already spent $1.6 million on the project.
Design work should wrap up in December, with the project going out to bid in January. Construction would start in April, and the new 275,000-square-foot building would be done in December 2015.
For now, that timeline will stay on course, said Scott Horan, assistant superintendent for facilities. But it would all be put on hold if supervisors vote for the referendum.
"In my opinion, I don't believe it [money already spent] will go to waste, but there might be some additional dollars that we'd have to apply," Horan said.
This wouldn't be the first time county representatives changed their minds about Stafford High, which was built in 1975 and is the oldest of the county's five high schools.
In 2010, a $35 million renovation was planned to the existing school. But the next year, the decision was reversed as the School Board voted for a rebuild on the same site instead, using input from a citizen group.
The new school is modeled after Colonial Forge High, which opened in 1999, and Mountain View High, which opened in 2005.
Plans now call for a three-story building that would serve up to 2,000 students, an increase of 200 over the existing school's capacity.