Part I. What’s the Issue?
Prince William County Virginia, one of the wealthiest and fastest growing counties in the United States is currently constructing a yet to be named school which is commonly being referred to as the ‘Twelfth High School’. It is the most expensive high school ever built in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Projected to cost $100 million, the school is slated to open September of 2016. It is located on 110 acres and will include a 340,000 square foot building.
The most unique feature of the school will be the Aquatics Center with competition and leisure swimming pools, complete with spectator seating and a locker facility. The interior of the building will include a large performing arts wing with an auditorium that includes fixed seating, a raised stage, adjusting orchestra pit, lighting, and sound system. This wing will also have band, choral and strings spaces, a dance studio, and individual practice spaces. The classroom wing will have 58 standard classrooms, as well as science labs, business labs, specialized rooms with technology emphasis, art rooms, and a television studio. Classrooms will be fully equipped with interactive whiteboards that will allow for enhanced teaching capabilities. A large media center will include computer areas for research and instructional use. Other notable features include multiple gymnasiums, locker rooms, two baseball fields, two softball fields, eight tennis courts, and a conservation area for use with environmental science. The new football stadium will include a press box, track and field turf playing surface.
The school system is currently in the process of redrawing boundaries for the new school. Prince William County School Administrative Staff made their recommendation at the end of April. Their plan is highly concerning. The demographic split between schools located in close proximity to each other is troublesome. Also, that the plan has non-contiguous parts or islands that are geographically closer to the new school but are not included while areas further away with less demographics are.
Under the School Systems’ Plan – Hylton High School will have almost 4 times the amount of Limited English Proficient Students (12th – 2.1%; Hylton – 7.9%), more than 3 times the amount of Economically Disadvantaged ie students receiving a free or reduced lunch ( 12th – 9.1%; Hylton – 30.4%) and almost double the number of Minorities (12th – 36.6%; Hylton – 74.8%).