The new attendance lines have been set for several elementary schools in the southern end of the county.
In a split vote, and after three months of work, the Loudoun County School Board adopted new attendance boundaries Tuesday night. The adopted plan, called Plan 4, was drafted by Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles), and reassigns just more than 1,000 students in four elementary schools: Buffalo Trail, Hutchison Farm, Liberty and Little River.
School assignments needed to be adjusted for those schools ahead of the opening of Goshen Post Elementary School next fall and to relieve some of the county’s most crowded schools. The new school is under construction on land next to John Champe High School along Northstar Boulevard.
Morse said the adopted plan was the best option to stabilize attendance boundaries in the long run, making it so fewer families will be reassigned a second time when ES-29 opens. ES-29, another new elementary school, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023.
Morse, Vice Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), and board members Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), Tom Marshall (Leesburg), Debbie Rose (Algonkian) and Beth Huck (At Large) supported Plan 4; Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) opposed. Joy Maloney (Blue Ridge) was absent for the vote.
In public hearings leading up to the board’s final decision Tuesday, several families asked the board to support Plan 4. North Riding resident Asheesh Chhabra, who has a second-grader at Liberty Elementary, said he and his neighbors are tired of changing schools every few years. “I think this plan really helps stabilize the eastern part and brings the most stability going forward,” he said.
Turgeon, DeKenipp and, initially, Huck favored Plan 7. That plan would have assigned the Greens at Willowsford neighborhood (planning zones 7.1, 7.3 and 7.4) from Buffalo Trail to Goshen Post. The plan that the board adopted splits them, keeping students in 7.3 at Buffalo Trail and sending students in 7.1 and 7.4 to Goshen Post.
“You’re splitting up a community by sending part of them to Goshen Post and part of them to Buffalo Trail, but in a couple of years when ES-29 opens, those sections of Willowsford will be reunited again,” Turgeon said. “We wanted them to stay with their community rather than being separated and then brought back together.”
But most board members were concerned that proposal, Plan 7, would mean Goshen Post Elementary would open with 946 students, 49 over its building’s capacity. The adopted plan opens the new school with 883 students.
“Why would we open a brand new school over capacity when we don’t need to,” Hornberger said. “We’ve never done that before.”