No timetable to build new East End high school

Posted at 5:17 PM, Oct 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-17 18:22:26-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- Henrico County Public Schools cleared a major hurdle for building a new East End high school by acquiring land on Old Williamsburg Road.

The school was slated to open this year, but leaders said there is now no timetable for construction even after.  That's because the district does not have the funds to build the school.

“The public would have to approve this. Until our budget picture is more clear, we can't say when a bond referendum would be on the ballot," Andy Jenks, a spokesperson for Henrico County Public Schools, said.

Enrollment is another reason school leaders are holding off on the plan to transform the wooded area into a nearly $90 million school campus.

In 2008, school leaders in Henrico voted to build an East End high school at a time when the area’s two high schools were overcrowded.

Jenks acknowledged some parents will be disappointed to know there’s no plan at the moment for a bond referendum to raise money for that school.

“The current schools are not overcrowded. Still, you want to have the land now for when it’s needed one day. That way you are that much farther ahead,” Jenks said.

However, neighbors along Old Williamsburg Road are not upset about the hold up on construction.

In fact, some folks said they were upset the county used eminent domain to take acres of property from neighbors. Recently the school system settled with a family to secure forty acres of land for the school.

Irwin Stroop says he’s convinced the new school will happen at some point.

“If they buy the land, then they'll build that school. I don’t know when, but they will build it” Stroop said.

He said he knows what his neighbors are going through, saying he once lost property the same way. Stroop said when an interstate came through his old property in Chesterfield, he had to move his home.

Stroop is now concerned for his East End neighbors and expects to lose a part of his front yard.  He also said he is not thrilled about what he thinks a new high school will bring to his neighborhood. After seeing the plans, traffic is his biggest concern.

“They will have four hundred parking spaces there. That means they’re expecting a lot of people -- and there's always something going on at the high school always,” Stroop predicted.