The Planning Commission Schools Committee is responding to a Board of Supervisors request to modify the Policy Plan of the Comprehensive Plan to incorporate “locational and character criteria” for repurposing commercial office buildings for school use.

The Board agenda item that made the request cited Upper Bailey’s Elementary School at 6245 Leesburg Pike as an example of successful use of surplus commercial office space to provide school capacity.  The renovated office building is in a heavily trafficked commercial district; on blacktop; with no gym, auditorium, or green space.  While many parents understandably are happy to have their children in the building instead of the 19 trailers used for many years at Lower Bailey’s Elementary School, the building fails to meet Virginia Department of Education guidelines for school facilities.  It fails as well to meet current Policy Plan guidelines.  Many citizens consider the refurbished office building an inferior solution  and an unacceptable model for future Mason District schools.

Supervisor John Cook is leading a Building Repurposing Workgroup seeking productive uses for aging, empty commercial office buildings in the county.  More than 17 million square feet of vacant office space is on the market.  One use under considerations for the aging, empty buildings is conversion to public schools.

On 26 May, Mason District Council sent a letter to Supervisor Cook recommending a different approach – move county offices into the vacant commercial space and re-purpose the vacated county buildings as schools. That is, certain county operations would migrate into commercial space (purchased or leased) and public schools would inherit the county-owned property vacated, a two-step conversion of commercial space into school space. The theory is that it is easier and more natural to convert commercial space into space for county offices than to convert commercial space directly into schools.

The letter requested a response from the Building Repurposing Workgroup.

The Planning Commission Schools Committee will meet on the following dates at 7 PM in the Board Conference Room (walk to the right behind the dais in the Board Auditorium) at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, 22035.

  • 4 May
  • 25 May
  • 15 Jun
  • 13 Jul (if needed)
  • 21 Jul
  • 20 Sep