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Tale of Four High Schools, Part III

At least four school districts in the northern half of Virginia are currently in the process of planning or constructing high schools, including Arlington (Washington-Lee), Alexandria, Culpeper, and Fauquier. We growled about the expected cost of replacing Washington-Lee High School on May 30 and June 7 of this year. We first started comparing W-L and Fauquier's 'third high school,' but added T.C. Williams, and will now add Culpeper County's second high school, which appears will be built for 1500 students (compared to 1600 for W-L). According to yesterday's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, the new Culpeper high school will cost $53 million ($42 million for construction and $11 million for so-called 'soft costs'), as compared to W-L, which is approaching $100 million. Fortunately for the taxpayers of Culpeper, their board of supervisors seems to be adamant about holding their school board accountable for bringing in the new school on budget. The newspaper quoted one supervisor as saying, "[The School Board] said they could make $53 million work, and that's what we're going to New York to borrow." Brave new words? For the sake of Culpeper taxpayers, we hope not. And furthermore, the time is past for Arlington's school leaders to provide a complete accounting of why W-L has to cost significantly more than the other high schools.