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Cost of Four High Schools, Part IV

Our initial impression that the Arlington School Board is building a 'Taj Mahal' in replacing the current Washington-Lee High School becomes stronger with each additional comparison. On July 7, we growled and added Culpeper's second high school to the list of high schools in advanced planning or recently started construction. We now have:

Washington-Lee/$95.2 million/cost per student -- $59,500
Fauquier's 3rd H.S./$50.6 million/cost per student -- $37,500 (Note 1)
T.C. Williams, Alex/$88 million/cost per student -- $35,200
Culpeper's 2nd H.S./$53 million/cost per student -- $35,333

To see just how extravagant the replacement W-L high school really is, we also looked at construction cost data information posted at the National Clearinghouse for Education Facilities; specifically the 10th Annual School Construction Report for 2005. Data in Table 5 of this report shows the median national cost per student for high schools is $24,641 while the cost per student for the "Top 10%" of high schools is $49,020. Translated to W-L, this means that Arlington's taxpayers will have a high school that will cost significantly more than the top 10% of all high schools in America. Sure sounds like "Ordinary Services at Extraordinary Prices." Putting it another way, the school board is spending every dime they can plunder from Arlington's taxpayers. We previously growled about the cost of W-L on June 7, May 30, and May 21.

Note 1. We previously reported this cost as $33,733 per student based upon 1,500, but we subsequently learned the school is being built for 1,200 students with "core services" being built for 1,500 students. So we're splitting the difference.