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School Board plans to vote on use of eminent domain

The county School Board will vote in two weeks on whether to use eminent domain to acquire a vacant office building in Falls Church for use as an elementary school.

The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church at 7 p.m. Dec. 5. The vote on the proposal is scheduled for a School Board meeting later that night.

The plan, if approved, would help relieve overcrowding at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, which is currently operating at 30 percent over capacity and the surge in enrollment expected to continue in coming years, according to School Board documents.

The five-story building is located at 6245 Leesburg Pike, close to Seven Corners shopping center and about 1.5 miles from Bailey’s Elementary School. The 3.4-acre commercial property has been vacant since last year. Repeated attempts by the School Board to negotiate with the building’s owners have been unsuccessful.

The building would be converted to a vertical design school, probably serving as a second campus for Bailey’s Elementary School. Employees from the school system’s Office of Design and Construction inspected the property in October. According to School Board documents, “while some remedial work would be required, conversion of the office building to an elementary school building is feasible.”

While rarely used by School Board in the past, the power of eminent domain is granted to local school boards by state law. The Code of Virginia allows schools to acquire private property “necessary for public school purposes.”

Anyone who wishes to speak at the public hearing must sign up in advance, either online or by calling the School Board office, by 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

Fort Belvoir Elementary School wins $1.6 million grant

Fort Belvoir Elementary School has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Defense Educational Activity program. The program provides funding to military-connected schools for implementing academic programs.

Fort Belvoir Elementary School plans to use the grant to beef up its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs.

Its proposal to the Department of Defense, dubbed “Operation Patriotic STEM,” laid out plans to expand its extended learning programs, offered to students after school and over the summer, in the STEM subject areas.

The grant will also help provide for an extra STEM resource teacher, as well as professional development for other teachers.

Works of county teachers featured in upcoming art exhibition

Art teachers from across the county will see their work on display starting Dec. 4.

The sixth annual Artist Teacher Exhibition, which runs through Jan. 12, will take place at Vulcan Gallery at Workhouse Art Center in Lorton. The show will feature pieces from more than 41 teachers representing 35 county public schools.

The 50 works at the exhibition were selected from more than 200 submissions. The winning entries were chosen by Sarah Eckhardt, an assistant curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.