School board members, mayor collaborate to repurpose Clifton Elementary School sign

Fairfax County school board member Kyle McDaniel, Clifton Farmers Market Owner and Manager Virginie Brechet Rodriguez and Clifton Mayor Tom Peterson next to repurposed Clifton Elementary School sign (courtesy McDaniel’s office)

Nearly 14 years after Clifton Elementary School shuttered, its sign has been repurposed.

The sign now serves as a bulletin for local organizations, businesses, and community groups to promote events such as farmers markets, cultural celebrations and educational workshops.

The Fairfax County School Board voted 9-2 on July 8, 2010 to close Clifton Elementary School, citing declining enrollment, high renovation costs and poor well-water quality.

Clifton-area residents filed a lawsuit to keep the school open, arguing that the school board’s decision was arbitrary and based on misrepresented facts.

After a year of legal battles, the Virginia State Supreme Court sided with the school board, allowing the elementary school to officially close on June 21, 2011 — a few years shy of its 60th anniversary.

The site has since remained empty, which didn’t sit well with recently elected At-Large School Board Member Kyle McDaniel. So, he teamed up with his colleague on the board, Sandy Anderson, as well as Clifton Mayor Tom Peterson and Fairfax County Public Schools staff to turn the school’s old sign into a community notice board.

“It was a simple thing to do that didn’t cost us any money and helped the community,” he told FFXnow. “It also was a gesture to start trying to mend fences with the community that is still upset about the school closure.”

Anderson, who represents the Springfield District on the school board, expressed gratitude for the community’s support and enthusiasm for the sign’s revival.

“I’m so glad that FCPS has been able to take the small first step to reintegrate this property back into the Clifton community,” she said in a press release. “I look forward to continued progress.”

“Clifton is a special community, and I am proud to represent it on the school board,” McDaniel remarked. “This is a first step on a journey to repurposing more of the Clifton Elementary School site for more community use.”