Thousands of middle and high school students in Brambleton and surrounding neighborhoods will be reassigned schools under the new attendance boundaries adopted by the Loudoun County School Board on Tuesday night.
The changes come ahead of the opening of Brambleton Middle School north of Rt. 50 in August 2017 and the yet-to-be-named high school (HS-11) on the same campus two years later. As School Board members shifted attendance lines, they also accounted for the opening of a middle school (MS-7) in August 2018 and a high school (HS-9), planned to open in August 2021.
The board opted for the boundary map that moves the fewest students, holding off on any major changes to families south of Rt. 50, and leaving the most packed middle schools in the county with enrollments well over their building capacities for another few years.
The county’s most overcrowded school, Mercer Middle School, this fall is projected to have 688 more students than its building was designed, and 1,050 more students by 2017.
Board members who favored the adopted map, Plan 2 amended, said they prefer to redraw the attendance boundaries at the far southern end of the county this fall, when they have new enrollment projections and, hopefully, a site for HS-9, the high school slated to open in 2021. While it will mean tight quarters for some of the schools, it will also mean fewer assignment changes for students in those schools. For example, a middle school student wouldn’t have to be shifted north to Brambleton Middle School in 2017 only to be reassigned to MS-7 when it opens in the following year.
“I do think it’s the right move to wait and gather more information about enrollment projections,” said Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), who drafted Plan 2.
[See the adopted boundary map here.] The middle school level changes will be implemented in fall of 2017, and the high school changes in fall of 2019.
The alternate plan, Plan 3, drafted by Jeff Morse (Dulles), would have reassigned about 200 students who live south of Rt. 50 to schools north of Rt. 50 to free up space in Mercer Middle School.
A visibly upset Morse said he and many community members worked hard to come up with a plan that would provide desperately needed enrollment relief to Mercer and other schools. “Nobody wants to move, but something’s got to give,” he said. “We’re going to have to move some children out of Dulles South up to Stone Hill and Brambleton [middle schools] if enrollment projections don’t change.”
He told Lenah Run residents, who rallied their neighbors to oppose Morse’s plan, that he looks forward to sitting down with them to work on a solution to relieve overcrowded schools in the south this fall.
Joy Maloney (Broad Run), who opposed the adopted plan, said she could not support it because it leaves Eagle Ridge Middle School and Briar Woods High School with too many students and splits the Belle Terra community. “There’s just too many things that went wrong here today,” she said.