Frequently Asked Questions

  • Capacity Questions

    Academic Questions

    Questions Regarding Safety

    Questions Surrounding the Planning Process

    Questions Regarding Construction

    Capacity Questions

    How many students are currently enrolled? What will the capacity of the new or renovated Patrick Henry School be?

    Patrick Henry currently serves approximately 600 students. The capacity of the new or renovated school is based on the approved preK-8 educational specifications providing for approximately 800 students.

    Will all grades preK-8 be enrolled during the first year of the school opening?

    The current plan is to add one grade level each year, starting with the sixth grade, until all of the middle school grades are enrolled.

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    Academic Questions

    What is the research behind a prek-8 school model?

    While research cites advantages of both prek-8 and the traditional pk-5 and 6-8 structures, ACPS staff believes that the prek-8 structure is a viable option for Patrick Henry for a number of reasons. This belief is rooted in existing efforts to raise student achievement in the school under a prek-8 model, configuration of the new building, providing middle grade students and parents with options for these grades, and meeting long-term school division capacity needs. Research shows these benefits of a prek-8 structure:

    • Continuity of instruction and focus from elementary to middle school;
    • Minimal transitions for students;
    • Increased middle school options within the City of Alexandria;
    • Deep knowledge of student strengths and areas for improvement;
    • More personalized experiences for students;
    • Sustained peer and staff relationships.

    While these are all important attributes that support a prek-8 model, successful schools are those with strong leadership, systems of support that are responsive to the diverse needs of students, a rich and rigorous curriculum that is relevant to learners and implemented with fidelity, and highly competent staff that demonstrate caring relationships to its students.

    Will a preK-8 program provide the same curricular opportunities as a sixth- to eighth-grade middle school?

    The preK-8 school will have fewer students in grades six through eight than a traditional ACPS middle school, with Patrick Henry expected to have a middle school capacity of 225 to 250. It will not offer as many choices as a full sixth- to eighth-grade middle school. However, it will provide an array of curricular activities equitable to the size of the sixth- to eighth-grade middle school based on student enrollment. Students also have opportunities to share after school sports activities with Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

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    Questions Regarding Safety

    Does the introduction of older students on this site pose any safety concerns?

    PreK-8 schools follow the middle school model in regards to security. As a result the new or renovated school will have additional cameras and other security measures not present on the other elementary school campuses.

    In addition, it has been observed in other preK-8 schools that the model encourages a culture where older students are protective of the younger students due to the extended time spent together at the same school site.

    Will this project increase traffic in the area surrounding the school and recreation center?

    A traffic study will be completed to determine impact on traffic during subsequent phases of the project.

    Some community members have responded favorably to the conceptual approach of placing open fields along street frontage or along N. Latham Street, rather than the interior of the site. However, there are some concerns around placing fields adjacent to roads. The safety and security of the students and community utilizing the play fields is a top priority for the project. Final site plan approval will take into consideration the safety and security of the fields as well as the school and recreation center.

    Will sidewalks for pedestrian safety be included in the project?

    Yes. Site plans in any subsequent design development phases will detail the location, length and width of all sidewalks that are part of the project. This aspect of the plan will be scheduled for review by the Alexandria Police Department and other City departments to ensure pedestrians have safe access to the school and recreation center.

    Will there be separate playground/recess areas for different age groups, all protected from vehicular traffic?

    Yes. The preK-8 educational specifications include age specific playgrounds. Protection from vehicular traffic is a top priority and approval of the final site plan will include considerations regarding the safety and security of students accessing the playgrounds.

    Will the existing building be tested for hazardous materials?

    Yes. Prior to completion of any subsequent design phase the existing building will be tested for any hazardous materials.

    Is there a City ordinance regarding the use of North Latham Street as an egress?

    ACPS staff has noted the concerns regarding increased traffic on North Latham Street and has included recommendations to revisit the issue during the design phase.

    Pursuant to meeting with the Director of Transportation and Environmental Services for the City of Alexandria and City staff, as far as they are aware there is no zoning ordinance that expressly prohibits an access road to the Patrick Henry site from North Latham Street.

    Nothing presented in the feasibility study as it currently stands is prohibited by law.

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    Questions Surrounding the Planning Process

    Are the school and recreation center considered one project?

    Yes. The new or renovated school and new recreation center are part of one project, jointly managed by the City and ACPS.

    What is the purpose of the feasibility study?

    The purpose of the study is to evaluate the feasibility of an addition/renovation versus new construction project for a preK-8 school at the Patrick Henry site.

    What is the timeline and what are the steps in the decision process for the feasibility study?

    The updated project timeline can be found on the Patrick Henry project page at

    When will the construction of the new or renovated school and new recreation center begin?

    The updated project schedule can be found on the Patrick Henry project page at Construction is currently planned to begin in the spring of 2017.

    How does this project relate to the Long Range Educational Facilities plan?

    This project conforms to the Guidelines of 21st Century Educational Facilities, outlined below in Chapter 3 of the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan.

    • Educational Specifications (Ed Specs): Elementary and Middle School Ed Specs were developed under the guidance of the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan Work Group and adopted by the School Board on January 29, 2015. Prek-8 Ed Specs were developed prior to the planning of the Jefferson-Houston School and were adopted by the School Board on January 5, 2012.
    • Guidelines surrounding the consideration of open space
    • Urban School Model: It is recommended that the planning of all new schools consider the urban school model.

    The Patrick Henry school site falls within the Seminary Hill/Strawberry Hill portion of the local Small Area Plan. Per Chapter 2: Planning and Implementation Policies of the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan (February 3, 2015), the plan for this area is still based largely on the 1992 plan with few amendments. View the Small Area Plans.

    Is redistricting being considered in the planning for the Patrick Henry project?

    The approved preK-8 Educational Specifications, the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan (LREFP) and the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget have all been considered in the planning for the Patrick Henry project. The discussion around redistricting has begun and its impact will be considered as the project develops.

    Has the decision been made to build a new school or renovate and add on to the existing building?

    Yes. On June 11, 2015, the Alexandria City school Board voted to move ahead with building a new school on the Patrick Henry site. Read more.

    Some staff and community members have concerns about where students and staff will be housed during construction? How is this concern being addressed?

    One of the constraints noted in the executive summary of the feasibility study, is that a priority is to keep "as much of the existing school in operation during construction as possible to minimize the need for swing space."

    How does site access to this project relate to the Alexandria comprehensive transportation plan?

    Preliminary feedback from the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T & ES) has been received as part of an informal Interdepartmental Review in April. The final site plan, including pedestrian and vehicular access, for the project must be reviewed and approved by T & ES during subsequent phases of the project.

    Is there a plan for the widening of N. Latham Street?

    Currently, there are no plans to widen any of the neighborhood streets as part of the project.

    Has physically connecting the recreation center building to the school been considered?

    Yes. The physical connection of the school and recreation center has been considered during the feasibility study and is still under consideration.

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    Questions Regarding Construction

    How long is construction for each option projected to take?

    In the current conceptual site plan options, the estimated construction phases of the project range from 15 to 24 months as illustrated in section 4 of the feasibility study.

    What are the construction costs for each conceptual site plan option?

    The estimated cost range for the conceptual site plan options range from $37.7 million to $41.7 million dollars as illustrated in section 6 of the feasibility study. The detailed cost estimate report can be found in section 8.2 of the feasibility study appendix. These cost estimates are for the school portion of the project.

    Cost estimates for the new Recreation Center are in progress.

    What are the green aspects of the proposed project?

    The goal of the project is to achieve LEED Silver. There are multiple green aspects being considered including:

    • Green roof
    • Rainwater harvesting
    • Increased insulation
    • LED lights

    Details on possible green aspects of the project and the LEED scorecard can be found in section 5 of the feasibility study.

    Will the multipurpose field be visible from the surrounding streets?

    Yes. In each of the four conceptual site plan options the multipurpose field is visible to some degree from Taney Avenue and/or N. Latham Street.

    Are outdoor playground/recess areas and multipurpose field dedicated for recreation center or school use?

    The ACPS playgrounds and multipurpose field are planned to be available to the School during the school day and open to the public after school hours.

    Where will school buses access the site?

    All of the current conceptual site plan options have the bus loop or pull off lane located along Taney Ave.

    Will new plans incorporate moving the tennis courts?

    All four of the conceptual site plans in the study include the removal of the tennis courts. This will be revisited as we begin the design process for the school and recreation center.

    Some community members are concerned that information is not getting to non-English speaking community members due to a lack of translators at community meetings? How is this being addressed?

    Currently, fliers are printed in English, Amharic and Spanish, and at Community meetings Amharic and Spanish interpreters are available for attendees. Interpreters for other languages are available on request ahead of meetings.

    How do we get answers to unanswered questions asked at the community meetings? What is the process?

    After each meeting the questions will be compiled and then the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document will be updated. If you feel that your question is not answered through the FAQ, please forward your question to Periodically, answers to questions will be collated and added to the FAQ. Any time the FAQ is updated, email notification will be sent out through

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