Prince William schools moved one step closer to building the county's 14th high school Wednesday night, with the school board approving the purchase of 20.8 acres in Woodbridge.
Part of the consent agenda, the transaction was approved without board discussion. The division will pay the Travers Family Limited Partnership $2.7 million for the land between Telegraph and Minnieville roads, near Interstate 95 and adjacent to the Mount Olive Baptist Church.
The plan is for the school to open in 2024, though that timeline is subject to change. The last school to be built in the division, Gainesville High School on the other side of the county, is slated to open later this year. It was built primarily to alleviate overcrowding at Battlefield and Patriot High Schools, but some have said that the need for a new school is also acute on the county’s east side.
Initially, the school division proposed a location off Prince William County Parkway and Hoadly Road near the county government complex, though that location drew some pushback from nearby residents.
The new school would help alleviate overcrowding at eastern Prince William County high schools, particularly Gar-Field, which opened in 1972, and Woodbridge, which moved to its current building in Lake Ridge in 1974.
School Board Chair Babur Lateef said he was limited in what he could say about the location selection because it’s handled in closed session for negotiation purposes.
“There was a lot of pushback [against the Prince William County Parkway location] from the community and there were also concerns about property acquisition there,” Lateef told InsideNoVa. “They look at a variety of different places that suit the need at the time, the first being: where does it need to go? And the second being: is there a good site to put there? There was general consensus that we needed a mid-county or eastern school, and it’s challenging to find property on the eastern side of the county. You need about 100-plus acres for a high school and it’s really challenging to find that.”
Lateef added that it’s technically possible that the school won’t end up at that location if there are any problems acquiring the other properties needed or elsewhere in the process.
“It’s not a foregone conclusion that the school will end up being there because the school will still have to go through the whole process,” he said.
Division staff couldn’t immediately be reached to discuss the location, and there was little information about the future school or its location in the board’s agenda items.