Letter: David Kirsten, Leesburg

Editor: My Leesburg community is literally being torn apart because of a “new paradigm” shift in our Elementary School Rezoning. My community is in turmoil. Why?

The Loudoun County School Board is considering its 12th zoning plan. It was unveiled only six hours before the final organized public comment session was held on March 14. Plan 12 came as a surprise and a shock to many in my community as not only did it appear suddenly, but it also includes splits of existing school planning zones, one of which includes my Exeter HOA community and a neighboring one to the south. The impact to my HOA community is dramatic, as it essentially moves all the single family homes to Francis Hazel Reid Elementary school to the north, while at the same time keeps all the townhouses of my community at Leesburg Elementary School where all of our Exeter community’s children currently attend. This plan also transforms Leesburg Elementary into a Title 1 eligible school. Currently, it is a more mixed income school with a fairly balanced ratio of 26 percent Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) students and 20 percent English Language Learners (ELL) students. Plan 12 would change those ratios to 59 percent FRL and 48 percent ELL.

One also cannot help but notice that the newly drawn zone lines surround households with higher percentages of FRL and ELL students.

Plan 12 purports to be a “community” plan, but how can it be called such when it tears the Exeter HOA community apart based on the type of house in which they reside? Why in my community of Exeter should my two daughters be treated any differently than an Exeter child living in our townhouse communities simply because of their abode and/or perceived socio-economic situation?

The critics will argue that this is really a more “proximity”-based plan and that we are doing “them” a favor by allowing “them” to go to a possible new Title 1 school that is closer to their home. But I grew up as a child of the ’60s and ’70s during the height of busing when it was believed that integrated schools provide the best environment for advancement of all children despite their background. And I feel I am a better man for it.

I fear that the hastily created Plan 12 does not reflect a “new paradigm” at all, but actually more resembles a very old one.

David Kirsten, Leesburg

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