As Loudoun County School Board members consider how to prepare for the opening of four secondary schools over the next five years, most parents and students say they want to stay put.
The attendance zone boundary changes for Brambleton and Dulles areas could impact students in as many as 31 schools, as school system leaders work to relieve overcrowding and prepare for the opening of Brambleton Middle School in August 2017 and the yet-to-be-named high school (HS-11) on the same campus in August 2019.
As board members shift attendance lines, they are also accounting for the opening of two more schools: a middle school (MS-7) and a high school (HS-9), both planned for the Dulles South area. MS-7 is planned to open in August 2018 on a site along Braddock Road, and HS-9 is planned to open in August 2021, but the school system does not yet have a site for it.
Seven parents approached the board during a public hearing Monday, and all of them said their children had experienced too many school reassignments already.
“We just kind of want to be left alone for a little bit if that’s possible at all,” said Julie Jennings, who lives in the Vantage Point neighborhood. She spoke in favor of Plan 2, a proposal drafted by Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), because it would keep her children at Stone Hill Middle School and Rock Ridge High School, where they were assigned just two years ago. “Several of these little neighborhoods have really bore the brunt of this. We always seem to be the one to get moved.”
But there may be no way to avoid reassigning thousands of students, as school leaders accommodate growth beyond their predictions in the southern end of the county.
Hornberger presented his proposal to the board during a work session Thursday. Highlights of his Plan 2 include the reassignment of students in One Loudoun from Farmwell Station Middle School and Broad Run High School to Belmont Ridge Middle School and Riverside High School, and moving of several neighborhoods from Trailside Middle School and Stone Bridge High School to the new middle and high school.
Under his plan, HS-11 would open with 1,532 students, 15 percent below its building capacity, leaving enough space for growth at that school until HS-9 opens in 2021. Brambleton Middle School would open with 1,172 students, 12 percent below its building capacity.
The chairman said the board would have to wrestle with whether it should reassign students in Ashburn-area schools, where there is some available space but it would mean changing boundaries many thought essentially had been locked in.
“That’s a huge piece for me because we don’t have new growth there (in Ashburn),” Hornberger said.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) said he would encourage the board to use available seats north of Rt. 50 until HS-9 opens in the south five years from now.
“It’d be smart if we are able to identify now a couple of the zones in the south and allow them to go to Brambleton Middle School and HS-11,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of options. Where there are seats available, I would consider trying to take advantage of them.”
Hornberger’s Plan 2 is the second proposal on the table. See details the plan here. See details of school system staff’s proposal here.
The final public hearing on the boundaries is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 2, with a vote to adopt an attendance map set for Tuesday, May 10. The meetings will be held at the school administration building, 21000 Education Court in Ashburn.
See “Complicated Boundary Changes Coming” article to read more about the pending boundary changes.