Falls Church High School is finally going to get some upgrades.
The Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved a $133.6 million contract for the construction firm Grunley Construction Company, Inc. on Thursday (April 14), ensuring that a renovation project that community members have sought for more than a decade will actually happen.
“The Falls Church community has been waiting for a very, very long time for this,” Dr. Ricardy Anderson, who represents Mason District on the school board, said before the vote.
The renovation will add approximately 126,000 square feet of space to the building at 7521 Jaguar Trail, including new science labs, a music wing, an expanded gymansium, a new library, adminstrative offices, and a new entry specifically for the Falls Church Academy.
Expected to be completed in summer 2026, the future school will be 429,000 square feet in size with the capacity for 2,500 students, according to Fairfax County Public Schools’ current capital improvements program.
FCPS added the project to its renovation queue in 2009 but ranked Falls Church as the high school least in need of upgrades, prompting questions about equity and the fairness of the evaluation process.
Despite reports of crumbling facilities, insect infestations, mold, and other problems at the school, which was built in 1967 and last renovated in 1989, the project did not receive funding for planning and design until the 2017 school bond.
Voters approved about $130 million for construction as part of the 2021 school bond, but that wasn’t the end to the project’s troubles: at a community meeting on Feb. 3, parents noticed that a new parking lot proposed at the current site of the school’s softball field had been suddenly removed from the presented site plan.
At Thursday’s school board meeting, Anderson thanked parents for bringing the issue to her and Providence District Representative Karl Frisch’s attention. She said they were able to work with FCPS staff to restore the original site plan, presented in April 2021, “without any delay.”
Frisch said the incident illustrated the importance of “robust community engagement.”
Construction on the renovation is expected to start this spring and will unfold in three phases over four years, including one summer when the gym will have to be closed, according to Annandale Today.
Prior to the vote on the construction contract, Frisch recalled attending a community meeting in 2019 where a project design team shared drawings of the envisioned future Falls Church High School.
“The community still didn’t believe it was going to happen, because they’d been waiting for that long,” he said. “This vote is putting our money where our mouth is, and it’s proof that it’s going to happen.”