History of the High School Campus Project

In January 2014, the City sold its water utility system to Fairfax Water. As part of the terms of sale, Fairfax County agreed to a boundary adjustment so that the 38.4 acres on which the City's high school and middle schools sit would move into the City limits.

In January 2014, the Campus Join Process Planning Committee was established by City Council. The Committee's purpose was to map out the planning (i.e., identifying decision points) and process for coordination, collaboration, and expert guidance. The Committee did not carry out the actual planning tasks to accomplish development goals.

Once that Committee's work was complete, the Campus Joint Steering Committee formed to to work with City and School staff to help guide the overall planning effort and provide recommendations to and facilitate coordinated decisions by the two governing bodies of the School Board and City Council.

City Council and School Board have taken an extensive look at the possibilities, considering options for a new school that include full gut renovation and addition; partial renovation and addition; phased building over 10 years; and new building. In November 2017, a referendum passed, approving the issuance of bonds to pay for the construction of a new high school. In January 2018, a Campus Coordinating Committee was established so that the two projects -- high school construction and economic development -- could coordinate on design decisions, scheduling decisions, and financial decisions.

(Related: Read the detailed history of the high school in Public School Superintendent Peter Noonan's memo.)

The Site

The site in consideration is referred to as the “School-Related Parcels” in the 2013 boundary adjustment agreement between the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County titled, “Voluntary Boundary Adjustment Agreement By and Between the City of Falls Church, Virginia, and Fairfax County, Virginia” adopted by Falls Church City Council resolution TR13-13 on April 22, 2013 and approved by voter referendum on November 5, 2013. On December 13, 2013 a Special Court appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court approved the voluntary boundary adjustment agreement that brought 38.4 acres from the jurisdiction of Fairfax County into the jurisdiction of the City of Falls Church. The property is owned by both the City and the City School Board, with 24.8 acres of the parcel owned by the School Board, and the remaining 10 acres owned by the City of Falls Church. The Schools-Related Parcels area is the larger of two areas transferred to the City in the adjustment; it is 34.8 acres. The stipulations of the agreement for the Schools-Related Parcels are as follows:
"At least 70% of the acreage… shall be used for school purposes for a period of at least 50 years…Up to 30% of the total acreage… may be used for any lawful purpose…"
The agreement allows up to 10.4 acres of the site to be used for economic development. The site is bounded approximately by Leesburg Pike (State Route 7), Haycock Road, and Falls Church Drive (an unsigned Metro access road). It is located adjacent to the West Falls Church Metro Station to the east of the site and exit 66 from Interstate 66 to the west of the site. The site currently contains Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School and George Mason High School, as well as recreational fields and parking lots related to the schools. The VT/UVA Center is adjacent to the properties at the corner of Falls Church Drive and Haycock Road.