Frequently Asked Questions
Why is ACPS building a school with a 670 student capacity?
Nearly all ACPS schools are over-capacity. ACPS projects that the division will continue to grow in the next ten years. In order to accommodate and best serve our families, all new schools will include a net increase in capacity. 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 additional Pre-K classrooms.
Why is ACPS considering Pre-K at George Mason?
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.
What sustainability goals will ACPS meet in the proposed new school?
ACPS plans to build schools that meet Net Zero Energy requirements, have a LEED Gold certification and meet the City’s Green Building Policy recommendations.
Why is ACPS recommending a complete replacement of George Mason?
George Mason was constructed in 1939, making it more than 80 years old. Though ACPS has done a lot of repairs and replacement projects in the facility, the facility is still expected to be in need of replacement in several years. George Mason Elementary School also is not configured optimally for learning and an addition would only exacerbate this building inefficiency.
What is the timeline of the project?
Based on the adopted FY 2022 to 2031 CIP, ACPS anticipates that design for George Mason will start as early as the summer of 2023 and take approximately two years before construction begins in the summer of 2025. Construction is also expected to last approximately two years.
Community Impact & Involvement:
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 designated or mapped floodplain or resource protection area on the George Mason parcel, and the site is able to be redeveloped.
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.
Will the woods in the back of the field, baseball fields and community park be preserved?
With ACPS’s pursuit of swing space, more of the woods, baseball fields and community park are able to be maintained. The design process will engage the community on what improvements and outdoor amenities would benefit the school and neighborhood.
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.
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,community members, and elected officials, 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.
What is Swing Space?
Swing space is the facility that is temporarily utilized as a school building while the new school is being built. Having swing space allows for more flexibility in the design and eliminates concerns of construction onsite with an active school.
Is George Mason going to use a Swing Space?
Yes, the Superintendent's Proposed CIP will include the use of a swing space during the George Mason and Cora Kelly Modernization Projects.
What building will be used as the Swing Space for George Mason?
ACPS is currently working through the purchase of the office building at 1703 N. Beauregard Street. This property will be renovated into a school, and used as swing space for both Cora Kelly and George Mason.
What is the expected cost of the renovation of the 1703 building?
Renovation of a school facility depends on the amount of work that needs to be done to the building, but generally could range from $250-$300 per square foot. The Superintendent’s Proposed CIP to be presented to the School Board in November will include a budget for the initial swing space renovation and final renovation to a permanent school.
Why did ACPS choose to recommend the use of Swing Space?
Having swing space for George Mason and Cora Kelly achieves several things:
- Eliminates safety concerns of having an operational school on a construction site.
- Allows for the most preservation of existing open space.
- Allows for the most flexibility in design to accommodate the school program, open space, parking, circulation, stormwater and other needs.
Will there be a traffic study?
As part of the design process for the swing space renovation and each modernization project, ACPS will conduct a traffic study of existing and proposed conditions. The traffic study will provide a thorough analysis of impacts of the proposed new school facility and identify traffic management and mitigation strategies to ensure traffic in the area is not made considerably worse.
Will transportation be provided for students?
Because the swing space will be outside of the walk zone for students at George Mason and Cora Kelly, transportation will be offered to all students.
How will bus drop off work?
Bus schedules may be adjusted to ensure students from the two schools are dropped off at staggered times.
How will student drop off work?
ACPS will develop a plan with safety and efficiency in mind. We will encourage the use of school buses for all students from the George Mason and Cora Kelly attendance zones, limiting the amount of students dropped off and picked up by car.
How will parking work?
Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School and the school occupying the swing space will share the adjacent parking garage. There is plenty of parking for both schools.
Will ACPS provide before and after school child care?
Before and after school child care are typically provided by our RPCA or Campagna Center partners. ACPS intends to work with our partners to ensure that whichever programs are provided currently are provided at the swing space for our families.