Loudoun’s School Board began the process to redraw elementary attendance zone boundaries in the southern end of the county Monday evening.
School assignments need to be adjusted in that area to make room Goshen Post Elementary School, set to open next to John Champe High School in fall of 2018, and to relieve some of the county’s most crowded schools. Buffalo Trail Elementary is the most crowded, serving 1,599—656 over its building capacity.
“We’re striving to relieve existing and projected overcrowding in the Dulles
South area elementary schools,” said Beverly Tate, the school system’s new director of Legislative and Planning Services.
The changes could impact students at five elementary schools: Buffalo Trail, Hutchison Farm, Liberty, Little River, and Pinebrook.
Tate presented her staff’s two recommended attendance maps, Plan 1 and Plan 2, to the School Board on Monday. The plans were created with the help of a new School Engagement Committee, the first implementation of a new tactic school leaders have adopted to get more feedback at the start of boundary changes.
The committee is made up of school principals of the affected areas, as well as staff members who oversee instruction, special education, transportation, planning and others as needed. They met several times to assess issues and student information to come up with attendance boundary recommendations from staff.
Plan 1 would assign neighborhoods east of Rt. 15 (planning zones DS 06.6 and DS 06.7) that fall on either side of Rt. 50, from Aldie Elementary to Goshen Post. The Meadows community (DS 09) north of Rt. 50 and the Village Run neighborhood (DS 17.7) would be assigned from Arcola to Goshen Post.
Also under Plan 1, several neighborhoods currently assigned to Buffalo Trail would be sent to Goshen Post, including DS 07.2 and 07.5—the Lenah Mill neighborhood—and 07.4, 07.8 and DS10, which includes the northern part of the Grove at Willowsford and Lenah Run. A portion of the Cedar Hunt neighborhood, DS13.5, would also be moved from Buffalo Trail to Hutchison Farm.
“This was the school we were really trying to provide maximum relief to,” Tate said of Buffalo Trail.
From Cardinal Ridge Elementary, the South Village neighborhood (DS 14.2) would be assigned to Little River, and a portion of South Riding (DS 13.6) would be assigned to Hutchison Farm.
From Liberty Elementary, the Eastview at Stone Ridge neighborhood (DS17.5) and Providence Ridge (DS 19) would attend Arcola Elementary. DS 13.8, including portions of South Riding and Baltzer Glenn neighborhoods would be moved from Liberty to Cardinal Ridge.
Plan 2 is based on Plan 1, but has a few more neighborhoods targeted for reassignment.
Under Plan 2, in addition to DS 06.6 and DS 06.7, the Creighton Farm and Barclay Ridge neighborhoods along Watson Road (DS04) would also move from Aldie Elementary to Goshen Post. From Arcola, in addition to the Village Run neighborhood, Plan 2 would also move part of Stone Ridge (DS 17.2) to Goshen Post. It would also assign a portion of the Reserve at South Riding (DS 14.4) from Hutchison Farm to Cardinal Ridge.
Students from Pinebrook Elementary would not be moved under either of the plans recommended by the staff. Tate noted that a new elementary school (ES-29) is scheduled to be built nearby and open in 2023. She wants to avoid changing a neighborhood’s school assignment now and again in five years.
“We were trying to provide a few more years of stability especially where we envision changes in the coming years,” Tate said. “Sadly, it’s not possible for all neighborhoods because we do need relief at the schools. But we were able to do it with Pinebrook.”
The School Board will hold its first public hearing on the boundaries at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, and a second public hearing 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6. The meetings are held at the school administration building, 21000 Education Court in Ashburn.