The Arlington County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved plans to build a new $35 million elementary school in the Williamsburg community.
The school will serve about 630 students and have 28 classrooms. It's part of a broader Arlington Public Schools plan to try to keep up with skyrocketing student enrollment and overcrowding. The school system broke ground on a 27,000-square-foot expansion at Ashlawn Elementary School earlier this month as part of the plan.
The new, yet-to-be-named school will be on the campus of Williamsburg Middle. The 96,805-square-foot facility will feature 100 parking spaces, The school system will be required to monitor any traffic impact, to promote walking, biking or taking transit to school, and to avoid scheduling major events at the elementary and middle schools at the same time.
Earlier this year, school officials wrapped up a series of public meetings that guided boundary changes to determine what students will attend the new school.
The two-story facility will feature a large gym — the size of a typical high-school gym in order to host assemblies of parents, students and teachers — and athletic fields with synthetic turf.
Arlington County typically requires outside lighting. The topic came up at various public meetings held to hammer out the school's plan, though it was never discussed in and of itself. Because of that, the county board ordered a work group to convene once the school opens in 2015 to report on whether lighting is needed by September 2016.
"At this point, it's fair to say there were some errors made on our side," Vice Chairman Jay Fisette said. ".It sounds like you tried many times to have this conversation and you failed to get enough willingness to discuss it. That's an error we should learn from and fix for next time."
He added: "I think it's a great looking school."
Board member Chris Zimmerman said the school's location in a "relatively remote" section of the county wasn't "ideal," and asked that the schools work more closely with the county in long-term planning so that future facilities can be placed in more appropriate locations.
"Once again, we're in the position where we can't say no now," he said.
The school's design includes insulated walls and windows, along with high efficiency lights and heat pumps. The building has been designed to use about one-third the energy used in a typical elementary school, according to county documents.
“The new elementary school will be an exceptional learning environment for our students, an asset to the community that will use the school and its grounds, and a welcome relief to the crowding at neighboring elementary schools," Arlington School Board Chairwoman Abby Raphael said in a statement.
Construction is expected to begin in January and should be complete in time for the start of school in the fall of 2015.