Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg will be getting a 6,000 square foot addition after Leesburg Town Council voted unanimously for it Tuesday night.
The single-story expansion will add several rooms, including three classrooms for special education classes, and allow the student body to expand from 697 to 743 students.
“It desperately needs to be expanded. There’s no question about that,” Mayor Kelly Burk said.
While Loudoun County Public Schools already set aside funds for the expansion, the school needed to apply for a special exception with the town because it is in a residential zoning district.
At Planning Commission meetings about the expansion earlier this year, neighbors expressed concern about stormwater runoff, the height of a proposed berm and old, damaged trees. According to LCPS representative Sarah Howard O’Brien, the school system has been working with these neighbors to alleviate many of the concerns.
Crews have already removed one problem tree, and LCPS plans to put in a storm water management system and make sure the berm is at an appropriate height and gradient for maintenance. Throughout the process, the school system will continue to communicate and work with neighbors, O’Brien said.
Neighbor Doug Fultz, who said his backyard looks like a swamp because of poor stormwater run-off much of the summer, is tentatively optimistic about the expansion.
“The school district and town have really worked with us,” he said.
Council seemed equally optimistic about the planned expansion, though Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez echoed some speakers’ concerns about the potential for increased traffic.
O’Brien answered that the school has begun and will continue to implement a “Congestion Must Go” campaign. The campaign will encourage students and their parents county-wide to find alternate means of going and coming from school, including walking, biking and carpooling.
With the expansion, the school will also implement new traffic patterns.
“I appreciate everyone’s work on addressing the issues,” Catoctin Elementary PTA President Peter Fedders said to council. “I do also want to stress the need for construction to take place in a timely manner. As the mayor said, this construction is very much needed at this school.”
Construction is slated to begin next spring and be ready for students by fall 2021.