(Updated on 7/11/2022) Fairfax County Public Schools has officially committed $36 million to renovating Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna.
The Fairfax County School Board awarded a contract to Henley Construction Company, Inc. during its June 16 meeting. The contractor beat out two other bidders for the project, which will roughly double the size of the school building.
The contract set a construction start date of Aug. 1, with Henley beginning its initial setup and erecting fencing by Aug. 15, according to the FCPS facilities staff.
“FCPS has already installed temporary classroom cottages behind the school,” FCPS told FFXnow by email. “The main work is expected to start with the new 2-story classroom addition in early September 2022.”
Originally erected at 324 Nutley Street in 1939, Louise Archer last underwent a renovation in 1991 and serves 510 students, as of the 2021-2022 school year, which concluded on June 10.
According to the current Capital Improvement Program (CIP), FCPS added the school to its renovation queue in 2009, but enrollment has declined over the past decade. There were 824 students during the 2012-2013 school year, pushing the facility’s program capacity utilization to 114% — well above the current utilization rate of 77%.
The school currently has a design capacity of 784 students, thanks to two temporary trailers and a 10-classroom modular introduced in 2005.
The planned renovation will eliminate the temporary classrooms, reducing the school’s design capacity to 700 students, but it will expand the 51,235-square-foot building to 103,224 square feet with a second-story addition. New amenities will include additional classrooms, offices, an updated library, and a larger parking lot.
The expanded parking lot will replace the existing modular with a new kiss-and-ride lot, separating parent drop-offs of students from the school bus area and staff parking. It will have 105 parking spots and two loading spaces, according to a Town of Vienna staff report.
Students have one week left to submit their ideas for new markers honoring Fairfax County’s Black and African American history.
The county is set to close the submission period for its 2022 Historical Marker Project on April 30. The project is part of a larger initiative to highlight the experiences of Black and African American residents that launched in February, coinciding with Black History Month.
While it remains to be seen how many proposals the county gets — and how many are ultimately chosen to become official markers — Louise Archer Elementary School students want to make sure their school’s namesake is in the mix.
Fourth-grade students have been researching Archer, who was the Vienna school’s first principal, in preparation for submitting her name, according to the grade’s Twitter account.
Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1893, Archer started her educational career with Fairfax County Public Schools as a teacher at Oak Grove School, a one-room schoolhouse for African American kids in Herndon, according to Louise Archer Elementary’s history of her.
Appointed as the teacher and principal of a school for Black students in Vienna in 1924, Archer joined with the Vienna Colored School League, the school’s equivalent of a parent-teacher association, to get a three-room schoolhouse constructed on Nutley Street in 1939 that would become Louise Archer Elementary.
— Fairfax Schools 🌟 (@fcpsnews) April 21, 2022
The historical marker contest is open to all kids in Fairfax County. Submissions must deal with local Black and African American history.
The county recommends focusing on a person who is no longer alive or events that took place at least 50 years ago, though the guidelines say exceptions can be made with the Fairfax County History Commission’s approval.
Ideas can be submitted:
- Through the county’s website
- By email to NCSblackhistorycommittee@fairfaxcounty.gov
- By mail to the Neighborhood and Community Services Black History Committee (12011 Government Center Pkwy 10th floor, Fairfax, VA 22030).
The winners will be chosen by a voting committee, and all participants will receive a certificate and recognition in a news release.