Frequently Asked Questions
Why did we launch a High School Project?
We need to expand capacity and build for a near future where we are educating up to 5,000 high school students and preparing them for college or the workforce.
What has been the goal?
The goal of The High School Project has been to expand both learning spaces and learning opportunities for all high school students.
What has been the objective?
Our objective has been to decide how we are going to solve the capacity issue while also deciding how we will provide our students with 21st-century knowledge and skills in 2024-2025.
How many students are expected to attend high school in five to ten years?
The ACPS high school population is projected to grow by 1,000 students over the next five to ten years to total 5,000 students. Between what we build new and what we already have, we need to accommodate this capacity and consider flexibility in the future for any fluctuations in enrollment. For detailed information about how these numbers are derived and future expectations beyond ten years please see Appendix D (PDF) of the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan.
Will 9th graders continue to be taught separately?
No, ACPS will be completely integrating 9th graders with 10th-12th graders. The ACPSGrade Level Report (PDF) commissioned by the School Board in 2016 recommended against the split model that ACPS uses with 9th graders taking most of their classes at the separate Minnie Howard campus.
ACPS estimates it needs additional space for 1,600 students. How did you get to 1,600?
The current capacity of Alexandria City High School – King Street campus is 2,900 students and the building will remain in use in all options.
Alexandria City High School Satellite campus will remain with a capacity of 100 students in all options.
An early college program at NOVA is proposed for a total capacity of 400 students.
Subtracting 3,400 from 5,000 leaves 1,600 students who will need space.
How confident is ACPS in the estimate of 5,000 students?
ACPS is confident that Alexandria City High School will reach an enrollment of 5,000 students within the next 5-10 years given existing enrollments of cohorts coming up to the high school grades as well as anticipated growth or attrition in the City. ACPS and the City of Alexandria began in 2013 and continue to work collaboratively on refining the enrollment projection methodology to account for changes in the City of Alexandria and trends being experienced in the schools. [The actual enrollments are within 2 percent of the annual projections.] Before anything is built we will review all our calculations and will continue to review and adjust them as the project progresses. For detailed information about how these numbers are derived and future expectations beyond ten years please see Appendix D (PDF) of the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan.
Where are we in the process?
On September 26, 2019, the School Board voted in support of the Connected High School Network and chose to expand Alexandria City High School with a building on the Minnie Howard Site instead of building a second high school. The decision put to a vote was whether to support a:
- one high school model (Connected High School Network) or two high school model; and
- the sites to be pursued based on the selected model.
From July 2018 to January 2019, we developed the core values and vision for the High School Project.
Over the summer of 2019:
- An Education Design Team (EDT) made up of teachers, staff and students identified courses of study — educational programming — that could be made available in two high schools or at an expanded Alexandria City High School.
- A team of ACPS staff, real estate and architectural professionals researched land options in Alexandria for a second high school or an expansion of Alexandria City High School into a Connected High School Network.
To read more see the draft report (PDF) issued on August 22, 2019, and updated September 19, 2019.
What options did the EDT come up with?
The EDT developed four concepts: two that could be applied to two distinct high schools and another two that could be applied to Alexandria City High School if expanded into a Connected High School Network.
- Two High Schools:
- Option A: Build a second high school; either Alexandria City High School or the new high school could focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; the other could focus on Humanities.
- Option B: Build a second high school; T.C. becomes an International Baccalaureate (IB) Program School that concentrates on world languages and the arts. The new high school is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment high school. Impact: Language classes would need to be added to middle schools to create continuity for schools that are not language-focused.
- Connected High School Network:
- Option A: A two-campus model with students taking courses at both a Humanities Center (King Street Campus) and a new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) campus built to include STEAM-focused CTE courses (possibly at Minnie Howard location.)
- Option B: Expand King Street Campus to include a new student center or building on Chinquapin Recreation area. This requires knocking down buildings at Minnie Howard to build a multisports complex and fields for recreation and school use. The HSP Team has since learned from the City of Alexandria that this is not an option. See more under Sites section.
To read more about the EDT’s recommendations, see the presentation slides (PDF).
What is an educational program?
An educational program is a series of classes or courses that make up a program of study. By the time students reach high school, some courses are part of a program, such as health sciences. while others fall under the more traditional and broad college preparation, but all learning prepares students to be able to choose from a variety of futures.
What are the federal and state guidelines for designing an education program for the future high school?
Our future high school will need to comply with federal and state educational expectations and requirements. During the Obama Administration, school districts, education experts, states and the federal government came together to rethink how we teach high school students. The White House summit’s recommendations fold into Virginia’s new graduation requirements that require more hands-on and personalized learning that is aligned with career readiness. Students should be exposed to careers and to college-level coursework. High schools should promote project-based learning and finding pathways that let students acquire knowledge based on what they are interested in studying. The state of Virginia also stresses teaching skills needed in the workplace and building connections with the local community.
What would have been the impact of having both schools offer the same courses? Is this possible given our agreement with George Washington University and the Health Sciences Academy?
Course offerings are tied to student enrollment, interest and staffing. The impact of offering the exact same courses at both a 1,600 student school and a 2,900 student school would be more cost. With regard to George Washington University and the Health Sciences Academy, the current Memorandum of Understanding is written for Alexandria City High School. It expires in 2022 and ACPS would need to explore this with George Washington University.
If we had two high schools that are theme-based and my student goes to the STEM school but also wants to take some Humanities courses will they be able to?
Yes. If a school is STEM-focused it would still offer courses in all the subjects a student needs to graduate and more. ACPS currently has two elementary schools with a math science focus but these schools also teach all the courses needed for each grade. The educational programming options presented by the Educational Design Team were created to show what a course of studies could look like if the School Board chooses two high schools or a Connected High School Network. They were meant to be conceptual and the School Board will not be voting on them. After the School Board chooses a direction, the EDT will reconvene. At that point, they will dive deeper into what programs and courses - beyond those needed to graduate - to offer in the selected model. The team will also work with Industry Advisory Boards that represent the careers and skills students need exposure to in order to earn a diploma in Virginia.
Does either model lock students into a pathway?
No. Students will have the flexibility they need to pursue their interests and change those same interests within any of the models.
What happens next with the Educational Design and four educational programming options?
An expanded Educational Design Team will reconvene to take a deep dive into developing programming. They will work with industry experts in the four fields of STEM, Business and Government, Education and Human Services, and the Arts.
What is an Industry Advisory Board?
The Industry Advisory Boards will bring expertise from their related industries, businesses, nonprofits and government institutions to help build programming introduced by the Education Design Team. This will help ensure students are prepared when they graduate. The four Industry Advisory Boards are made up of ten experts working in one of the following fields:
- Business and Government
- Education and Human Services
- Each of the four sections represents 16 program areas defined by the state as a necessary part of high school education.
What are the size and space considerations for a comprehensive high school?
ACPS is looking for space to build a 312,000 square foot high school building that has teaching space for 1,600 students. This would be the requirement if ACPS were to build a second high school.
What are the size and space considerations for a Connected High School Network model?
The Connected High School Network model needs the same square footage but it is based upon the concept of carefully distributing expanded learning spaces for Alexandria City High School on two or three additional locations or campuses in Alexandria. If this model is approved, the Minnie Howard campus would definitely be an expansion location. Potomac Yard is another location for a campus.
What site options did the team find?
Two High Schools:
- Option 1: 1,600 students at Minnie Howard
- Option 2: 1,600 students at George Washington, fields at Minnie Howard
- Option 3: 1,600 students at Francis C. Hammond, fields at Minnie Howard
Connected High School Network:
- Option 1: King Street 400 Students, Minnie Howard 1,200 Students
- Option 2: Minnie Howard 1,600 Students
- Option 3: Minnie Howard 1,200 Students, Potomac Yard 400 Students
One of the Educational Design Team’s recommendations for a Connected High School Network builds a building on Chinquapin land. The HSP team explored whether this would be possible and learned:
Using Chinquapin was not considered a viable option by the Site Investigation Team because it cannot be developed within the timeframe required to deliver new space for ACHS by 2023-2025.
Who owns Chinquapin?
Chinquapin was granted to the City of Alexandria by the National Park Service in the early 1960s. Its use as conservation land was designated as public outdoor recreation “in perpetuity.”
How long would it take to make Chinquapin available for use to expand Alexandria City High School?
There is an application process to request to convert all or part of the land, a process involving significant study, agreement by the city and the federal government, public engagement and possibly Congressional action. According to multiple sources, such a process could take three to five years for concurrence by all parties.
Why were the only viable sites ACHS, Minnie Howard, Potomac Yard, George Washington Middle School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School? Are any other sites that could become viable in the future and, if so, can you provide detail on what other sites can be used for school expansions in the future?
Staff and consultants conducted a thorough review of all sites available for ACPS use and considered (1) the available space on the site and (2) the timing of availability. Regarding school sites already in use, the High School Project team reviewed the sites which still have available space to develop or reasonably could have space to develop with zoning adjustments. Much of this information can be found under each individual school description in the ACPS Long Range Educational Facilities Plan. All ACPS elementary schools are either “built-out” from a zoning and best practice perspective or have very minimal room left to warrant building high school space.
Francis C. Hammond and George Washington are the largest ACPS sites, each over 20 acres. Alexandria City High School – King Street was included as a definitive component in all high school options because the building is only 12 years old and makes up most of the high school capacity. The Minnie Howard campus was included per the School Board’s motion to include the Minnie Howard campus in its proposed options. The Potomac Yard site offers the potential for a meaningful partnership with the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and the timeline ACPS is looking to achieve for the High School Project. There are other sites that are intended to be used for public schools in the City of Alexandria, similar to the Potomac Yard site, such as a similar size site in Eisenhower West.
ACPS is also working with the City and developers of Landmark Mall and Eisenhower East to find school sites or co-location opportunities on those development plans. The anticipated timing of availability for development on these other locations, however, was not expected to be in the proposed timeline, but could be available at another time. It is notable that none of these sites could accommodate the complete 1,600 student need.
Can the Potomac Yard sites identified in the report (p. 36) be used for a VA Tech partnership, given the proximity to the innovation campus?
Yes, ACPS has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the developer of Potomac Yard and with Virginia Tech on the parameters of a partnership. One of the priorities addressed by the Educational Design Team (EDT) as well as the facilities team was the power and value of cross-institutional partnerships in support of students’ post-secondary educational success and their preparation for 21st century career pathways.
How much information do we have on the Potomac Yard site?
The following is the information we have about Potomac Yard:
- We are working with the City and owners/developers on transferring land from Block 4 (0.7 acres) to Block 23 (1.1 acres)
- Rezoning could allow for 100,000-200,000 square feet of building
- Potomac Yard will include co-location with affordable housing, potentially for teachers, and other incentives transferred from Block 4 designation.
Does staff have preliminary thoughts on how a "fluid" campus feel could be maintained under Option A of the connected model, assuming that the STEAM building is housed at a site that is built at the Minnie Howard campus?
Yes, the concept is that every student would take their science and math classes at the Minnie Howard campus. Currently, Alexandria City High School students travel back and forth between the two campuses; a similar approach and process can be used with the STEAM model at Minnie Howard.
Can you describe the limitations on how high we can build on the Minnie Howard site?
Discussions with the planning and zoning office indicate 313,000 gross square feet (GSF) could be developed with a total height of 60 feet, or approximately four standard size floors. This would require a zoning variance request through the DSUP process.
What if student enrollment begins to drop off or decline?
A second high school could leave the City with underutilized infrastructure.
How much will The High School Project cost?
Schools are paid for out of an operating budget and a capital budget. The operating budget pays for staffing, maintenance, utilities, transportation and food service. The drivers for this cost are generally the number of students and size of the high school building. The capital budget pays for buying and developing land, building new construction or renovating, professional services, management, design, permits, legal fees, equipment, etc.
Since the number of students and the size of the proposed buildings are the same in all options, there are minimal clear comparative cost exposures or savings that could be anticipated at this time in the operating budget.
Some of the differences that are anticipated are:
- Additional administrative and athletic and school activity staffing in a two high school model
- Increased transportation costs the more sites there are in a proposed option
- Increased transportation costs the more choice, or City-wide options for students
Capital costs include all of the planning, design, construction and occupancy costs for the building, amenity and parking construction at each site. Given that all options include 312,000 GSF of new construction which ACPS estimates at $360 per gross square foot, all building construction costs are the same.
Some of the variations between the capital costs for each option include:
- Accommodating site amenities
- Accounting for development cost exposures such as topographic constraints, including increases in parking garage structures
How much more expensive would it be to build another high school 10-15 years from now?
The cost to build a second high school will increase by approximately 3.5% per year. Using a median second high school construction cost of about $190,000,000, we could expect a second high school to cost approximately $268,000,000 in 10 years and $318,000,000 in 15 years.
How much would it have cost to do redistricting for two high schools (including a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) contractor)?
The redistricting effort that ACPS pursued for elementary schools cost approximately $210,000 for the consultants, including GIS contractor, to run the process and took two years. This does not include the costs for attorneys, additional staff time, communications outreach materials or the impacts of the implementation policies set forth by the Board, such as on transportation.
How much would it have cost to add athletic facilities for a second school and then fund annually a second athletic department?
To offer the same sports at the new high school that are currently at Alexandria City High School it would cost roughly $225,000 to operate an athletic program.
Initial start-up cost for equipment, uniforms, etc. would be around $600,000 to have the basics, without counting football.
Football would be roughly $100,000 for uniforms and equipment cost.
ACPS uses City Recreation fields for many of the sports offered because we do not have adequate space at the high school.
Additionally, there would need to be more access to multi-use fields for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
Games may need to be hosted at another stadium-style field including concessions, bleachers and restrooms.
Football for two high schools may require at minimum two fields in which to practice. To build another stadium would be a minimum cost of $2 million.
For more information on costs see the presentation slides (PDF) provided to the board.
What is the cost of offering the exact same number of courses at both schools?
Two High Schools
Total Section Requests in Elective, CTE, World Languages, etc. Sections* (Population X 2.5)
Amount of elective, CTE, world language, etc. section options available (Total Enrollment in Electives / 20 students per section)
Amount of FTE Staff
(Amount of sections / 5 classes in teacher schedule)
Additional FTE Staff to provide same sections in two high schools
Additional FTE Staff to provide same sections as current (currently have 556 sections of electives equating to 111 FTEs)
*Based on average of 2.5 electives per year in students' schedules.
Note: Assumes approximately $100,000 per FTE licensed teaching staff member. The operating budget to support any additional staffing would be required in FY 2025 for implementation.
This analysis is based on current conditions at Alexandria City High School and courses which are credits for electives, CTE, family and consumer sciences and world languages.
What is the cost of implementing an International Baccalaureate Program?
There are two parts for the secondary International Baccalaureate Programme. It breaks down into the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for grades 9,10 and the Diploma Program (DP) grades 11 and 12.
- Application: $4,000
- Candidate: $9,500
- Annual: $10,050
- Total: $23,550 one time
- Ongoing annually: $10,500
- Application: $4,000
- Candidate: $9,500
- Annual: $11,650
- Total: $25,150 one time
- Ongoing annually: $11,650
- Grade 9 and 10 teachers: $550 per teacher
- Grade 11 and 12 teachers: $2,000 per teacher (plus, registration, flight and hotel)
- Six exams for the IB Diploma (Grades 11 and 12) $119 per exam or $714 per student for one attempt to get 4 or higher
- Students can also take AP like exams, called DP Core Evaluations for $147 per student
- There is an optional certificate offered at the MYP level that costs $76 per subject
How do the High School Project cost estimates compare to other similar projects in Northern Virginia?
The High School project team reviewed information available about projects in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. A list of Northern Virginia high school projects is below. It should be noted that what costs are included in the comparison projects have not been determined and may vary in each project. ACPS alternatives are still in the planning phase. The final program and educational specifications have not yet been developed.
Factors that need to be considered when comparing the benchmarks to the current development of alternatives include:
- ACPS assumes $360 SF for buildings only
- Another level of scope verification would need to occur in order to confirm the scopes of benchmarked projects are consistent with the scope of the ACPS alternatives.
- The scope of ACPS' current alternatives include site and parking development, sometimes on multiple sites, escalation, contingencies and a 25% of all hard costs planning metric for soft costs.
- Part of the effort to calibrate the benchmarked projects to the ACPS alternatives would include applying escalation/ inflation as appropriate.
- The High School Project is in the planning stage. Site specific educational specifications have not yet been developed, therefore the cost impacts of specific program elements have yet to be determined.
- The High School Project team including design and estimating consultants believe the current parametric estimates are appropriate and reflect valid order of magnitude costs at this stage of project formulation.
Description 2015 - 2020 Northern Virginia Benchmarks Current High School Project Alternatives Total Hard Costs/SF $149 - $448 per sf $458 - $566 per sf Total Costs/SF $177 - $556 per sf $581 - $641 per sf Soft Cost Percentage 15% - 24% 25%
Below is a chart of the other Northern Virginia high school projects.
Complete School SF Hard Costs Soft Costs Soft Costs % of Hard Costs Student Capacity Hard Cost/SF Total Cost Total Costs/ SF Sep-19 Wakefield High School 403,940 $103,200,000 $15,400,000 15% 1960 $255.48 $118,758,360 $294 Sep-19 Wilson Secondary School 181,803 $81,500,000 $19,500,000 24% 775 $448.29 $101,082,468 $556 Sep-21 Herndon High School 421,940 $84,000,000 $17,000,000 20% 2500 $199.08 $100,843,660 $239 Sep-15 George C. Marshall High School 364,000 $54,300,000 $12,000,000 22% 2000 $149.18 $66,248,000 $182 Sep-16 TJ High School for Science & Technology 398,833 $59,300,000 $12,000,000 20% 1820 $148.68 $70,593,441 $177 Sep-19 Independence High School (HS-11) 282,000 $92,000,000 $16,000,000 17% 1800 $326.24 $107,724,000 $382 Sep-15 Riverside High School (HS-8) 275,386 $78,400,000 $13,600,000 17% 1775 $284.69 $91,978,924 $334 Dec-20 GMHS Project Fact Sheet 303,829 $100,000,000 $20,000,000 20% 1200 $329.13 $120,000,000 $395
What do you expect transportation costs to be for an expanded ACHS?
Because we currently bus the entire City to either the Minnie Howard or King Street campuses and because there is some, though minimal transportation between campuses, we would assume that transportation costs for a Connected High School Network would be comparable to our current transportation costs for ACHS and escalated for amount of students and distance to the new campus.
What would have been the start up costs in the first couple years of setting up a second high school?
Normal redistricting process: $210,000
Staff and Consultants: Legal, admin FTE, communication outreach Controlled Choice expert: $50,000 - $100,000
Total: $260,000 - $310,000+ legal, admin FTE, communication outreach
Market research/design consulting: $30,000
All efforts/product including graphics/website/social media: $200,000
Sports Teams / Athletic Program Implementation
(Dependent upon competitive interscholastic programs chosen i.e. football, basketball, swimming, soccer etc.)
Uniforms and equipment: $700,000 - $1 million
Athletic program staff: $225,000
Total: $925,000 - $1,225,000
Helath Clinic Operation
Staffing: 3-4 FTEs Equipment: $500,000 est.Total: $500,000 + 3-4 FTEs
Project Implementation Team
Staff and Consultants (5 dedicated Educational and Technical staff for two years): $500,000 per year
Total: $1 million
Staff reassignment from Alexandria City High School to new school: $200,000 est.
Staff Professional Development
Teacher stipends and consultants: $500,000 est.
Initial IT and Transportation Telematics Start Up for New School
Separate internet connection, new phone lines, separate radio frequency fees, separate network infrastructure, special needs technology program assignments: $1 million
Total: $1 million
Total Start Up Cost: $4,615,000 - $5,165,000 + 3-4 FTEs, legal, admin FTE, communication outreach
Two High Schools
Can you describe the Two High School Model?
The model would:
- Address capacity by building a second high school to serve 1,600 students; 2,900 remain at Alexandria City High School.
- Create separate athletic, music and dramatic arts programs.
How would attendance have been determined for two high schools?
If a second high school was pursued, the School Board would have had to engage in a redistricting process to determine how students would be assigned to each school.
If the School Board had recommended the two high school model and the School Board had also decided to use a “controlled choice” assignment model, ACPS would have engaged outside experts to help define the process and measure success of implementation. Our last redistricting effort was at the elementary level and Alexandria has not redistricted for high school for several decades.
How would staffing assignments have been determined for two high schools?
ACPS would need to develop a process to determine what staff would move from Alexandria City High School to the new high school.
How would we have handled issues of more students selecting one school over another in a two high school model?
This will depend on student assignment and how the School Board will handle redistricting.
How do we assure equity in these models, especially given some of the inequities that persist from elementary and middle schools?
ACPS is currently engaged in the important work of equity, to ensure:
- engagement in a high-quality learning environment for all students
- access to educational resources and opportunities,
- resources and supports are provided.
This work will continue.
Under the two high school model, how would transfers between the two schools have been handled in a way that is consistent with a "controlled choice" student assignment model?
Transfers between the two high schools would have required the involvement of the current Office of Student Services, Alternative Programs and Equity to ensure alignment with local and state board policies and regulations in order to be consistent with a controlled choice model if the School Board votes for it during redistricting.
If the School Board recommended the two high school model and the School Board also decided to use a “controlled choice” assignment model, ACPS would have engaged outside experts. Our last redistricting effort was at the elementary level and Alexandria has not redistricted for high school for several decades.
How would redistricting affect the timeline to deliver learning space?
The community engagement, redistricting and naming process took approximately two years to be developed for the elementary school. The School Board could have engaged in this process during the design and construction of the second high school. However, grandfathering policies that the School Board may pursue could extend the timeline for occupancy by one or two years. This may have reduced our ability to bring on the capacity for the 5,000 students in a timely manner and exacerbate the crowding of Alexandria City High School.
How could we handle transit/busing if students aren’t attending neighborhood schools and instead being directed to their "choice" of school?
ACPS policy is that students outside of walking zones are provided transportation to and from school. That will not change. However, school choice and number of locations do add to transportation costs.
What would have been the impact of having both schools offer the same courses?
Course offerings are tied to student enrollment, interest and staffing. The impact of offering the exact same courses at two high schools - one, a 1,600-student school and the other a 2,900-student school, would have been more cost. See the cost section for more information.
Would some classes disappear if we had pursued two high schools? Can you provide examples of ones that might not have been supported?
All the graduation requirements would have been available at both schools. Electives and other course offerings would decrease from current options and the new ones would be driven by student interest as they are currently.
What role will online learning play in bridging any gap?
We will continue to review and expand online learning offerings if they can provide alternatives to meet any gaps in course offerings at a particular site, based on student requests for an online educational experience.
Would it have been possible to switch high schools if a student develops an interest in something that is only available at the other one? What if one school had it available online and the other had it available with a teacher in a classroom?
Transfers between the two high schools would have required the involvement of the Office of Student Services, Alternative Programs and Equity to ensure alignment with local and state board policies and regulations, and in order to be consistent with whichever student assignment approach the School Board adopts.
What is the plan for providing support services?
Virginia Standards of Quality require specific staffing and support services to meet student needs. A second school will have a full complement of staff for support services.
Would a second comprehensive high school have had a college and career center with access to the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria?
Yes, equity and excellence are key principles underlying the High School Project. Therefore, students at both campuses would certainly have access to the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.
How would the boathouse have been shared? Would two high schools have meant eliminating the programs provided for city residents that also help fund the program?
Crew is a club activity and not a Virginia High School League sport. To have it at a second high school would be based on student interest and viability. The boathouse would be shared with any additional crew teams.
How much would it have cost to support an athletics program each year and what would the start up costs be?
The Alexandria City High School athletics program costs $225,000 annually. The start up costs for various sports is around $700,000. There would be some additional fees and costs. Please see the “Cost” section of FAQ for more details.
One High School Model
(Connected High School Network addition at Alexandria City High School)
Can you describe a Connected High School Network?
A Connected High School Network was the vision that emerged from the work done over the summer and fall of 2018. The idea is to deliver programming (or courses of study) at one or more buildings linked to the home campus of Alexandria City High School. Students in grades 9-12 would have the opportunity to choose to attend courses and internships in other buildings located on different campuses. This capacity solution meets student needs by continuing to do what Alexandria City High School is already doing at its Minnie Howard campus, Satellite campus and with Chance for Change Academy, by building another large STEAM focused building. Additionally, as early as 2021, the ACHS Early College program at NOVA may begin, and ACPS is exploring an opportunity to build a campus at Potomac Yard as well as a partnership with Virginia Tech.
Does staff have preliminary thoughts on how a "fluid" campus feel could be maintained under Option A of the connected model, assuming that the STEAM building is housed at a site that is built at the Minnie Howard campus?
Yes, the concept is that every student would take their science and math classes at the Minnie Howard campus. Currently, Alexandria City High School students travel back and forth between the two campuses; a similar approach and process can be used with the STEAM model at Minnie Howard. The fluidity will continue to be a key design principle as the EDT and High School Project leadership team begin to provide more detailed educational framework designs for the final option approved by the School Board.
How will transportation needs be minimized? Is it possible that some students will attend a different campus on a daily basis rather than being transported during the school day?
In the Connected High School Network. transportation needs during the school day will be minimized through scheduling.
Yes, it is possible that some students will attend a different campus on a daily basis rather than being transported during the school day.
How many Minnie Howard students currently take classes at King Street? Can you describe the process for when and how students are transported between campuses, and what is the cost?
Currently, on a red day there are 163 Minnie Howard students taking courses at the King Street campus. Also, on a blue day there are 170 Minnie Howard students taking courses at the King Street Campus. Each day, one bus leaves from the lower lot at 11:30 a.m. and five buses leave at 1:40 p.m. to transfer students from Minnie Howard to King Street. The cost is approximately $40,000 per year.
Under the Connected High School Network option A, will students be locked into a Humanities or STEAM pathway, or will students have flexibility to take courses of their choosing from throughout the connected network?
Members of the Educational Design Team were in consensus about the need for program design options to be as flexible, personalized, and student-centered as possible. No student will be “locked into” a Humanities or STEAM pathway. In the Connected High School Network, Humanities and STEAM are not pathways, instead they are the courses offered on the two sites.
What is the impact of a Connected High School Network on course offerings and learning opportunities?
Because all 5,000 students would be attending the same high school, Alexandria City High School would be able to add to what it already offers and students would be able to access more opportunities that lead to college or a job.
Please provide some examples of how other places have done this.
Wayzata High School, Minn.
In 2013, Wayzata High School - the largest high school in Minnesota at the time with 3,700 students - faced a ten year enrollment projection of an additional 900 students. The community considered either expanding the current high school with an addition or building a second high school. After months of deliberation, a committee made up of community, city and school board members recommended the school division expand the current high school over other options. The reasons they stated included the following: opportunities available in a large setting, disparities that would exist between one larger and one smaller high school, positive case studies of other successful large schools, long-term operating cost efficiencies - operating costs for a second high school would likely exceed an additional $12 million over the next 20 years. In a special election in February 2014, voters chose to expand the current high school over building a second one and provided permission for a bond. Learn more about their process.
Carmel High School, Ind.
In 2005, Carmel High School - a then 4,400 student school in grades 9-12 - opened a new three story Freshmen Center. The 182,000 square foot three story building divides the classes up into three houses - one for each floor - with the same course offerings on each level. The students are broken up into three Houses in groups of +/-350 students. Teachers focus on consistency and work collaboratively. Carmel High currently has 5,000 students, is the only high school in its district and has a 98 percent graduation rate.
Relevant Past Actions
What was the last vote on the High School Project?
In January 2019 and then in March 2019, the School Board voted to allow ACPS to plan for an expansion of Alexandria City High School into a Connected High School Network. They also asked for site concepts, program options and a cost-benefit analysis for a second high school buildout.
What else did the School Board ask ACPS to consider while developing the Connected High School Network concept?
They asked that nine priorities guide the work, including making sure programming is administered equitably, there be flexibility for students to change the academic path they choose, an ability for students to take all their courses in one building if they choose to, and that there be an intentional focus on special education and the delivery of English language services.