Fairfax grandfathers Thomas Jefferson students
Loudoun County's relationship with the prestigious math and science school has been in flux after Fairfax County announced it would charge participating counties to help renovate the school. Costs of the renovations are projected to be close to $90 million and Loudoun would have to pay close to $8 million of the cost.
School Board members have mulled over the value of sending such a large sum to a neighboring county. Members have discussed not signing the two-year contract agreement between the schools.
Loudoun County School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) announced at the April 23 School Board meeting that the Curriculum and Instruction Committee had heard that Fairfax Superintendent Jack Dale recommending allowing current Loudoun students attending the school to be "grandfathered,” meaning they would be allowed to stay even if Loudoun decides not to re-sign a contract. John Torre, public information officer for Fairfax County, confirmed Turgeons report.
Additionally, Torre said that the Fairfax County School Board is largely supportive of the measure. The Loudoun School Board had already stated they intended to allow current students to finish at the school.
But discussions for the magnet school are hardly over.
The two-year contracts are typically signed in the May and June time frame and Loudoun has still yet to see an official bill from Fairfax.
“I think the discussion really needs to move forward with the School Board from Fairfax,” School Board member Thomas Reed (At large) said.
Reed notes that because of the high predicted cost, the Board of Supervisors will also have to be involved in the process of deciding Loudoun's future at TJ.
Reed also said the School Board is investigating the legality of paying Loudoun tax dollars for a Fairfax capital improvement project.
“We're in the process of getting the [Virginia] attorney general's decision or reading on whether we can even use taxpayer money to fund a project in Fairfax,” Reed said. “If we can't pay them the money by law, how can they ask for it?”
In order to get an answer, the Board will have to inquire to attorney general Ken Cucinelli through a local delegate. The School Board is tentatively speaking with Delegate Joe May (R-33) about pursuing this process.
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