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February 28, 2017 · OPINION

Middle school project costs higher than elsewhere

File Photo/Cassandra Brown
The proposal would build a $55-million structure to replace Taylor and Warrenton middle schools.
By Thomas H. Valk, M.D.

In Fauquier County, we have a middle school problem. Both Warrenton and Taylor middle schools are out-of-date and deteriorating. Neither school has been remodeled since 1981 and, taken together, they have a combined age of 145 years.

We agree: It is time for a solution.

But at what cost to the taxpayers? Based upon their meeting of last week, it appears that the school board and the board of supervisors can’t agree.

The school board has requested $55.3 million dollars or $348.23 per square foot. However, as detailed below, our neighbors in Frederick, Warren and Loudoun counties have undertaken the task of building new middle schools within the past few years, at between 22 and 25 percent less cost per square foot!

We don’t have a good answer to the cost question. Unfortunately, an examination of the draft architect plans for the new middle school raises more questions than it answers.

Taxpayers in Fauquier County deserve to know why our new middle school is so much more expensive than those of our neighbors to both the east and west on the Interstate 66 corridor. We think the school board should be providing answers well before a bond referendum is presented to the voters of our County.

Fauquier County
Proposed middle school
Total cost: $55.3 Million
Square feet: 158,804
Price/square foot: $348.23
Seats: 1,000
Opening: To be determined

Loudoun County
Brambleton Middle School
Total cost: $50.4 Million
Square feet: 184,593
Price/square foot: $273.03
Seats: 1,350
Opening: Fall 2017

Warren County
Warren County Middle School
Total cost: $40.5 Million
Square feet: 154,800
Price/square foot: $261.63
Seats: 800
Opening: Fall 2017

Frederick County
Frederick County Middle School
Total cost: $49.5 Million
Square feet: 180,000
Price/square foot: $275.00
Seats: 900
Opening: Fall 2016

The writer serves as chairman of the Fauquier Taxpayers Association.

Cost per square foot was calculated by dividing the total cost of the school (both hard and soft cost) by the published square footage.

Please, note the Loudoun, Frederick and Warren County numbers are not adjusted for inflation.
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