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Is the Arlington School Board Building a 'Taj Mahal' High School?

Last Friday and Saturday, we growled about the continuing problems of the proposed replacement of Washington-Lee High School. Now comes news from the Spotsylvania school district, thanks to today's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. The newspaper reports "The Spotsylvania County School Board could save $31 million over the next five years by bringing the cost of building new schools in line with the state average, according to an independent efficiency review." Citing a recently completed review of the school district, the paper noted the school district had "built nice schools, but at a significantly higher cost than most in the state . . . (the) last six schools cost 23 percent more than the state construction average on a per-pupil basis." Prior to last fall's elections, we ran an ad in the Arlington Sun-Gazette, which noted the new W-L would have 208 square feet per pupil compared to the current 142 sf/pupil. We also noted in the ad that two Virginia high school put under construction in 2002-2003 averaged 163 sf/pupil. A friend who just returned from Iraq noted that School Board members seem to build schools the way Saddam used to build palaces . . . "lavishly and as monuments to themselves -- all at the expense of the hard-working people." A prudent action for the Arlington School Board would be to send the architects back to the drawing board to wring-out about 72,000 square feet (1,600 students x 45 extra sf/pupil) of more out of the current design. That would be the least they could do for Arlington's overburdened taxpayers.

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