There were so many people in the school administration building’s board room Monday that the crowd was asked to stay clear of the doorways to avoid a fire safety hazard.
A few hundred parents—and dozens of students—were there to make their voices heard during the fourth public hearing on the pending attendance zone boundary changes. More than 80 approached the microphone to tell members of the Loudoun County School Board where they want their children to go to school.
The nine-member board is in the process of redrawing the attendance map for elementary schools in the Brambleton, Ashburn and Leesburg areas to prepare for the opening of a new school and provide relief to the county’s most overcrowded schools. Madison’s Trust Elementary is set to open next fall near the intersection of Northstar Boulevard and Creighton Road.
There are eight different boundary maps under consideration, and more will likely come. Plan 1 and Plan 2 were drawn up by the school system’s Planning Department. Plan 3 and Plan 6 are proposals by Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge). Plan 4 and Plan 5 were drafted by Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn). Hornberger and Jeff Morse (Dulles) worked together to draft Plan 7, and Plan 8 was drawn up by Thomas Reed (At Large). Both those plans were presented at the meeting Monday.
Four of the seven proposals—plans 1, 3, 4 and 7—would reassign students who live near Evergreen Mill Road from Brambleton elementary schools to schools closer to Leesburg. Speaking to his proposal, Morse said with the surge of new students in the southern end of Loudoun, the county cannot afford to leave seats unfilled, and Sycolin Creek and Evergreen Mill elementary schools in Leesburg have space. As is, the county government may not have enough borrowing ability to build the new schools needed over the next few years in the Dulles North planning area, he said.
“The overcrowding situation has grown so quickly that we do not have the space necessary to accommodate all the children one year out—one year out—even with the new school opening,” he said. “[Plan 7] moves some children to Leesburg area schools where we have a vast amount of space.”
His proposal also would reassign the neighborhood between Ryan Road and Loudoun County Parkway from Rosa Lee Carter Elementary to Legacy Elementary. The change would make it so that Rosa Lee Carter serves only neighborhoods in Brambleton and Loudoun Valley Estates.
Morse acknowledged that it is hard for families to change schools, but said, “Rosa Lee has gotten to the point where we’d be looking at 150 percent capacity. It’s just not realistic.”
Reed said he created Plan 8 after several families approached him with concerns about making changes to attendance zones in the Leesburg area, which they thought were final after Sycolin Creek Elementary opened in 2007. “My plan eliminates the need to impact the central Loudoun schools,” he added.
Many parents who addressed board members showed their support for the plans that would not send students to schools near Leesburg.
Matt Murray told the board he favored Plan 6 because it would assign kids in his neighborhood near Evergreen Mill Road to Madison’s Trust Elementary instead of Sycolin Creek, near Leesburg. Many families from his neighborhood who spoke at the Nov. 16 public hearing urged the board to not send their children to Leesburg schools. They said they feel more connected to Brambleton because their children have attended Creighton’s Corner Elementary. And, a move a Leesburg-area school would require school buses to take a left turn from Watson Road on to Evergreen Mills Road, a maneuver they said was dangerous.
“Thank you for listening to our concerns,” Murray said. “Our community accepts moving to a new school, but we ask that that new school be Madison’s Trust Elementary.”
School Board Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) addressed the hundreds of families who have said throughout the process that they do not want their children to change schools. He told the parents who packed the board room that he and his colleagues are listening to their requests, but he asked that they think of the bigger picture and get behind a plan that offers the most long-term relief.
“We’re going to have to move a bunch of people somewhere. Obviously, Madison’s Trust is a new school and we have to fill it,” Kuesters said. “The best plan may be moving to a new school where you can stay for five or more years.”
Students from as many as 14 elementary schools could be impacted by the boundary changes. Those include: Creighton’s Corner, Hillside, Legacy, Mill Run, Moorefield Station, Rosa Lee Carter, Ashburn, Cedar Lane, Discovery, Dominion Trail, Sanders Corner, Steuart W. Weller, Evergreen Mill and Sycolin Creek.
The School Board will hold one more public hearing on the attendance zone changes Monday, Dec. 7, ahead of adopting a final map Tuesday, Dec. 8. Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and take place at the school administration building, 21000 Education Court in Ashburn.
Get more details on the process here.
Contact Danielle Nadler at firstname.lastname@example.org.