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ACPS: George Mason Elementary students and teachers could change schools mid-year

1703 N. Beauregard Street, via Google Maps

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is working through plans to utilize an office building as school swing space during modernization projects, but that could involve students and teachers changing locations mid-year.

At a meeting earlier this week, ACPS staff laid out the occasionally complicated plans to use the building at 1703 N. Beauregard Street as a temporary school while other schools are being demolished and rebuilt. Those plans involve new protocols on what adults are allowed into the building and how the building can be locked down in an emergency.

Some of the more popular questions from the audience were about the timeline, specifically for George Mason Elementary School’s modernization.

A timeline presented by ACPS staff said construction on the swing space at 1703 N. Beauregard Street could start late this year and be completed by sometime in late 2024 or 2025. Once that’s complete, ACPS could move forward with the construction of the new George Mason Elementary School.

Depending on the timeline of when the swing space is completed, however, George Mason Elementary School students and teachers could be changing schools mid-year.

“We’re currently targeting that swing space construction would be done during the 2024-2025 school year,” said Erika Gulick, executive director of facilities and operations. “When that’s done, if we’re already ready to be starting construction on George Mason, there may be a mid-year move that we would be looking into to save the time on construction and to reduce our costs there and to get everyone back into the new George Mason as soon as we can.”

Gulick said the timeline is still to be determined with a more concrete timeline to be nailed down later this year.

“If it seems vague, it’s because we don’t necessarily know yet,” Gulick said “The other option is we could move at the start of the 2025-2026 school year. That could be easier. We have done winter moves before when we needed to.”

There’s some precedent in ACPS for changing schools mid-year, but Gulick said it’s still a challenging process.

“We did move Patrick Henry mid-year,” Gulick said. “It was intended to move over winter break but it didn’t end up happening until Martin Luther King Day weekend. It is a challenge to do that.”

Gulick said for any school move, whether it’s over summer or during the school year, teacher contracts complicate matters.

“It could work like paying teachers to come in over a weekend if they’re willing to do that,” Gulick said. “It could look like paying teachers to stay after school. We have not, I don’t believe, closed schools… but maybe there is additional support on a certain day that could be provided like substitutes so teachers could do more packing up.”

Gulick also said that two schools won’t share swing space at the same time. Specifically, Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology’s modernization project won’t happen until after George Mason’s is wrapped up.

“George Mason and Cora Kelly will not be in swing space at the same time,” Gulick said. “George Mason will come in, we’ll rebuild George Mason, then once they’ve vacated: Cora Kelley will come in and use the swing space. There will be no sharing of teachers.”

The George Mason Modernization Project is scheduled to kick off this fall.

Photo via Google Maps

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