13th High School rendering

An artist's rendering of Prince William County's 13th high school, which is under construction near Jiffy Lube Live and is expected to open in the fall of 2021.

Prince William County planning staff say the county will need at least another 14 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools by 2040 to keep up with projected growth. 

The county’s projected school needs were included in a the community education chapter of the county’s Comprehensive Plan update presented to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors last week.

Prince William County schools are currently overcapacity by 1,200 students, according to staff. The school division is already planning for six new elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools in the coming years.

The new schools are included in the school division’s 10-year capital improvement plan and are slated to be completed at over the next eight years. The capital improvement plan will be updated by the school board this spring when it passes its budget for next school year.

“We’re busy building schools every year,” said David McGettigan, Prince William County’s long-range planning manager during a supervisors’ work session on Tuesday, Feb. 11. 

McGettigan said two new high schools – the county’s 13th and 14th -- are planned for the western and mid-county areas. The 13th high school is already under construction and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021. A site for the 14th high school is proposed near Hoadly Road and Prince William Parkway.

A new middle school is also under construction at Potomac Shores, a community on the east end of the county off of U.S. 1. It will also open in 2021. Six new elementary schools are planned for the east and mid-county areas. 

“We do have some overcapacity in the high schools. Hopefully, the [new] high schools will help alleviate some of that,” McGettigan said.

Prince William County schools currently serves 91,000 students across 98 public schools. 

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments estimates the Prince William County’s population will increase by about 100,000 people between 2020 and 2040. The county’s current projected population for 2020 is 464,000.

The county Planning Commission approved the community education chapter of the comprehensive plan update Dec. 18.

The board of supervisors will vote on whether to adopt the chapter into the comprehensive plan later this year. A public hearing for the community education chapter update has not yet been scheduled.

Virginia code requires local planning commissions to prepare and recommend a comprehensive plan for the physical development of each jurisdiction to be updated every five years. The comprehensive plansets in place key land-use and development policies for the county. 

The board initiated the comprehensive plan update in late 2016. Deputy County Executive Rebecca Horner said the county is about 70% of the way through the updated plan and aims to complete the process by the end of 2020. Mobility and land use chapters have not yet come before the board. 

County staff also presented the “parks, recreation, and tourism chapter” of the comprehensive plan. The updated plan aims to double the acreage of county parkland by 2040. The county currently has about 5,000 acres of county parkland, which makes up about 2.6% of the county’s land area. 

“We’ve landed on 5% land area for county parks as our level or service goal, which would be a roughly 5,000-acre increase to the size of the park system,” said Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Planner Ryan Delaney. “That goal would put us at about 10,400 acres of county park land.”

The comprehensive plan updates for community education and parks, recreation and tourism will go before the board for a vote in the coming months. 

Reach Daniel Berti at dberti@fauquier.com

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