Frequently Asked Questions
Why is ACPS building a school with a 720 student capacity?
Nearly all ACPS schools are over-capacity including George Mason. ACPS projects that the division will continue to grow in the next ten years. In order to accommodate and best serve Alexandria families, all new schools will include a net increase in capacity, and elementary schools specifically are proposed for capacities more in alignment with the 700 student prototype in ACPS’s Educational Specification. Every 5 years, or with the opening of a new school, ACPS will evaluate each school’s attendance boundary. This process will allow ACPS to distribute incoming elementary students to the schools with capacity. The projected capacity of 670 students for George Mason includes approximately 4 Pre-K classrooms.
Is ACPS considering Pre-K at George Mason? Why?
Providing Pre-K in elementary schools is a goal for ACPS and the City of Alexandria. Pre-K spots are in demand throughout the division and all new elementary schools will consider the addition of space for Pre-K.
Is an in-house pre-k at George Mason guaranteed or is there a possibility that Pre-K dropped or projected enrollment being adjusted?
Providing Pre-K in elementary schools is a district-wide goal for ACPS and the City of Alexandria. The capacity and grade level configuration will be finalized at the early stages of design.
What is Swing Space?
Swing space is the facility that is temporarily utilized as a school building while the new school is being built.
Roughly how much would a swing space cost for those two years of construction?
ACPS is exploring swing space options for future modernization projects and the costs of swing space are variable based on how swing space is approached. For example, costs for renovating an existing school might be less expensive than renovating an existing office building which would be much less expensive than new construction. Costs for these different options could range from $10M-70M.
Is ACPS exploring identifying swing space for both Cora Kelly and GM concurrently (with Cora Kelly occupying that swing space first, followed by the GM student population)?
Yes, if the scenarios for George Mason and Cora Kelly in which swing space is needed are selected by the School Board as the desired scenario, a swing space that would be able to serve each school (George Mason first and then Cora Kelly) would be desirable and likely cost-effective for ACPS.
When will ACPS choose one of the scenarios and present to the School Board for approval? And is enough time built into the process to secure swing space if needed?
In the Fall of 2021, the School Board as part of the FY23 CIP budget process will discuss which scenario to pursue. If swing space is needed for George Mason, it will be incorporated into the timeline to be ready for George Mason families and students.
Will the community be involved in some of the different layout decisions?
Yes, as this project moves into the Design Phase, anticipated in 2023, there will be additional opportunities for community involvement in the process. An Advisory Team will be formed, composed of George Mason staff, parents and community members, who will play a critical role in the design phase to provide feedback to ACPS and the Design team. Community meetings where the public can submit comments and ask questions will also be held on a regular basis during the Design phase.
Will the woods in the back of the field, baseball fields and community park be preserved?
Each scenario imagines a different location and layout for the school. Scenario 2 would displace George Mason Park, however, community amenities would be relocated on-site. In Scenario 3, while some outdoor play areas would be improved, some trees could be preserved to the extent possible. All removal of trees will comply with City of Alexandria requirements.
Is the community importance of the park part of the decision making process?
ACPS knows that the George Mason Park is an important amenity for the neighborhood and for the school. Permanent or temporary displacement of the park will be taken into consideration during the decision making process, design, and construction phases of the project.
How is the decision made on what type of fields to have in the green space? Do you consider community input?
Outdoor play areas are required as part of the Ed Specs for new elementary schools. Throughout the design phase, ACPS will receive community input on the shared outdoor and green space.
At what point will ACPS consider the LEED certification level (net zero?) of the new building and the possibility for onsite energy generation?
ACPS is required by the City of Alexandria and the Net Zero regulations to build schools that are Net Zero and have a LEED Gold certification.
Will flooding impacts to surrounding streets be taken into consideration?
Yes, ACPS is required by the City to improve the stormwater conditions when a new school is built. This may require stormwater retention and treatment on-site through green infrastructure. There is no floodplain or resource protection area on the George Mason parcel, and the site is able to be redeveloped.
In scenario 2, what is the maintained historic frontage used for?
George Mason Elementary School’s historic frontage would be maintained in Scenarios 2 and 3. The final use of the historic frontage has not been decided.