Questions and answers regarding the relocation of Paul VI Catholic High School

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The following document was prepared by the diocesan Office of Communications.
Q: Why relocate Paul VI Catholic High School to Loudoun County?
A: Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and diocesan officials, in consultation with pastors, parishioners, school focus groups and national consultants, have been studying various aspects of the state of Catholic education in the diocese and considering how best to ensure its future. Major considerations have included demographic patterns and projections; elementary and secondary school enrollment trends; best instructional practices; and the cost of maintenance, repair and renovation of existing facilities.
The diocese determined that the facilities at the current Paul VI Catholic High School campus in Fairfax are being used to their maximum potential and will be unable to meet the long-term educational needs of students. The 80-year-old facility, previously occupied by Fairfax High School and George Mason University, has required substantial repair since its acquisition by the diocese in 1983. Over the past 32 years, the diocese has invested $15 million in the Fairfax campus, with the cost of maintenance and repairs rising. Retrofitting the building is cost-prohibitive and site expansion is not possible.
Q. The diocese announced its intention to pursue Paul VI's relocation in 2013. Why did it wait to make the official announcement?
A. As a result of the findings from the assessment referenced above, the diocese announced in 2013 its intention to pursue the relocation of Paul VI to Loudoun County, noting that a move was contingent upon the resolution of logistical, legal and financial factors, with the hope that an announcement could be made in 2015 following its due diligence.
During the process, Sister Bernadette McManigal, superintendent of schools, communicated with the Paul VI Board of Governors and administration to keep them apprised of the progress.
At this point, the diocese has determined that the legal, logistical and financial challenges are able to be resolved and is therefore able to move forward on the relocation.
Q: Will students who live in Fairfax County have access to Catholic secondary education?
A: Residents of Fairfax County will continue to have ample access to Catholic secondary education. Students can continue to choose to attend any of the four diocesan schools that best meets their needs. In the 2014-15 academic year, students from Fairfax County made up 68 percent of the student body of Bishop Ireton (Alexandria); 62 percent of Bishop O'Connell (Arlington); and more than 20 percent of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic (Dumfries). Because almost half of the Paul VI student body traveled to the current Paul VI campus from points west of Fairfax City this past year, the South Riding campus will be a viable choice for many in the western region of the county.
Q: Why South Riding?
A: Since Paul VI was established in 1983, the population of the diocese has grown dramatically in the region west of the campus: currently, 92,000 Catholics live in western Fairfax County and Loudoun County, the fastest-growing county in Virginia. Demographic projections signaled continued population growth, so the diocese acquired several properties in anticipation of serving its members well into the future. This included a 68-acre parcel of land in South Riding, just over the border of Fairfax County. Because the site is accessible to students in two of the most populous regions in the diocese, the diocese determined that it would best be used as a high school that could serve as many students as possible.
Q: Who will develop the site in Fairfax City?
A: The diocese is in the final stages of negotiations with a developer who will formulate plans for the property in cooperation with Fairfax City planning officials.
Q: What is the expected timeline for the construction and opening of Paul VI's new campus in South Riding?
A: The projected opening is fall 2020. A four-year timeline has been allocated for the process, including the selection of the architectural and engineering firm by a diocesan building committee and consultation with members of the Paul VI faculty, staff, student body, administration and the Board of Governors.
Q. How will the Paul VI community be involved in the transition to a new location?
A. A number of groups - including the Board of Governors and committees with members of the administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni - will be essential in ensuring a smooth and successful transition to the school's new campus. The diocese will engage a variety of groups to help guide the architectural plan of the new site so that it best serves the unique needs of the Paul VI school community.
During the 2014-15 school year, Sister Bernadette McManigal initiated a conversation with the administration and faculty department chairs to elicit ideas and recommendations on how a new campus might facilitate more optimal instruction and learning. This consultation included several recent visits to three state-of-the-art high school campuses to better envision opportunities for Paul VI to expand its current program of studies.
Q: What kind of assistance will be available for those who are affected by a move from Fairfax City to Loudoun County?
A: The diocese is committed to providing bus transportation for students traveling to and from the new site. Proposed pick-up and drop-off locations include stops within the City of Fairfax. In addition to providing transportation, the diocese will continue its tradition of offering financial assistance to families in need. Bishop Loverde remains committed to providing affordable and accessible Catholic education to the highest number of students as possible in the diocese.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015