Prince William County Public Schools is set to begin construction, possibly in the next few weeks, on a new middle school at Potomac Shores, with an opening date in 2021.
The county’s school board awarded a $52.4 million contract to Manassas-based V.F. Pavone Construction to build the new middle school, which will be the 17th in the school division.
The division received four bids for the construction and awarded the contract to the “lowest responsive and responsible bidder.”
The middle school will be located along River Heritage Boulevard near Woods View Drive at Potomac Shores, a development just north of Dumfries between U.S. 1 and the Potomac River. The development is already home to St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School and Covington-Harper Elementary School.
School division staffers plan to develop boundaries for the new school, said David Beavers, the division’s supervisor of planning and financial services. The new school is expected to help reduce overcrowding at other middle schools, including Hampton, Lynn, Woodbridge and Graham Park.
Those schools had student enrollment this year above capacity, according to PWCS data, with Hampton at 106.5 percent, Lynn at 102.1 percent, Woodbridge at 125.2 percent and Graham Park at 117.5 percent. The new school will also help relieve near-overcrowding at Lake Ridge Middle, which was at 94.3 percent capacity this September.
For more than five years, the school division has directed long-term planning in its capital improvement program to provide additional capacity in the eastern part of the county, Beavers said.
“We’re doing that to try and eliminate as much as possible our use of portable classrooms,” Beavers said. “I think all these measures will, to a great extent, reduce our reliance on portable classrooms, and it should be a great benefit to the school division and to the community.”
Other middle schools have been expanded to accommodate 1,464 students, but this will be the first middle school built with a 1,464-student capacity, Beavers said.
The Potomac Shores middle school design will be the first three-story middle school in the county, said John Mills, the school division’s supervisor of construction. Other middle schools have two stories.
“For us, moving to a three-story building, we’re hoping this helps us to develop further schools that take less land; and we get more efficient at the vertical application and get less of a footprint,” Mills said.
The 197,954-square-foot middle school will house a grade level on each of the three stories, with sixth grade on the first floor, seventh grade on the second floor and eighth grade on the third floor, according to the school division’s presentation on the school.
I also will feature an 800-seat auditorium, a secure courtyard surrounded by the school building, labs, group activity rooms, and extended learning areas for project-based learning and group work.
Pavone Construction also built Covington-Harper Elementary, a school with capacity for about 750 students that opened last fall. It had 632 students enrolled as of Sept. 30, according to school division data. That’s an increase of 16.4 percent from the previous year,.
To help with overcrowding at eastern Prince William elementary schools, the district is building a new school at 4060 Prince William Parkway, near the Chinn Park Regional Library. A groundbreaking for the 100,000-square-foot school was held Oct. 31, and it is set to open in fall 2019 with a capacity for 700 students, according to the division.
The elementary school is on a 17-acre site. The county deeded two acres to the school division for a soccer field, which will be accessible for school and public use.