Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mount Daniel, Plan B and the “RFP”

With the approval of Fairfax County Planning Commission of the Mt. Daniel expansion called into question, there needs to be a “Plan B” for addressing the need for expanded facilities for elementary students.  One action that can be taken now is to add flexibility to the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the new high school so that, if necessary, an additional grade or two could be located at the George Mason/Mary Ellen Henderson site.

For example, until recently 5th grade was at Mary Ellen Henderson (MEH).  One backup plan might be to have a smaller Mt. Daniel expansion plan that would make it suitable for the growing K-1 classes, and instead of moving 2nd grade from Thomas Jefferson (TJ) to Mt. Daniel, moving 5th grade back to MEH from TJ.  Not the best thing of course – my kids were in the first 5th grade class at TJ and that was great – but a better option than overcrowded classrooms.  The School Administration and Board will of course decide on the best backup plan, in coordination with the City Council.

If having a larger MEH is an option for consideration, the RFP could include an “Add Alternate” now to get proposal from multiple companies.  Note that the RFP already asks for plans to expand the size of MEH from 600 to 1000 students.  As an example, the RFP could seek proposals for adding an additional grade to MEH by saying:

“ADD ALTERNATE – ADDITIONAL GRADE AT Mary Ellen Henderson – The Project includes an add alternate for the design and construction services to add an additional grade to MEH and meet the Building Program and requirements contained in the Education Specification, Requirements for Grade 6‐8 Middle School and Middle School Level of Quality and Guide Specifications for the construction of an addition to the existing Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.  The Project includes all associated utilities, stormwater management, landscaping, tree preservation, floodplain verification, parking, and any other site improvements necessary to meet permit requirements.  The addition shall be compatible architecturally with the existing facility.  The attachments shall be the same as for the Mary Ellen Henderson scope of work, except for increasing the number of classrooms and work rooms by one-third.”  [This language would likely be longer and more detailed.]

Language of this sort would give the Schools and City flexibility in the future without additional delay, depending on what happens regarding Mt. Daniel.  Similar language could be used for two grades, or other options.

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