Fairfax schools propose boundary changes to alleviate crowding

Fairfax County public schools administrators have proposed a boundary change that would move more than 350 students in the fall of 2014 to alleviate crowding issues at Fairfax High and Lanier Middle schools.

The staff recommendations, issued Monday night, are part of the final stages of a plan to address severe crowding at Fairfax High and its feeder school, Lanier Middle. Fairfax High enrollment exceeds 2,600 students, and the school is 9 percent above capacity. The high school’s enrollment is projected to climb above 3,000 within five years, which would push the school to 24 percent above its capacity.

Lanier Middle is at 95 percent of its capacity but is projected to exceed it in the next five years, officials said.

Both schools are part of the Fairfax City school system, but about 65 percent of their students come from surrounding county neighborhoods. Fairfax County pays to send county students to the two city schools; the boundary plan should not affect students who live within Fairfax City limits.

Jeffrey Platenberg, assistant superintendent for facilities and transportation services in Fairfax County, helped draft a plan that would move students from three areas in the county.

Beginning in fall 2014, about 260 high school students and 100 middle school students would be reassigned. The proposal would allow older students to finish at their original school, and it includes a phasing in of boundary changes that would shift students from lower grades. The ­changes would be complete by the 2017-18 academic year.

At the high school level, the proposal calls for shifting 34 students who live in neighborhoods near the Fair Lakes shopping center from Fairfax High to Chantilly High; 174 students in the Fairfax Villa area would move from Fairfax High to Woodson High; and 53 students who live in the Fairfax Station, Fairview Woods and Fairfax Manor subdivisions would switch from Woodson High to Robinson Secondary. Next year’s rising freshmen would be allowed to enroll at their newly assigned school with transportation provided, Platenberg said.

If the staff recommendations are adopted, the boundary changes would keep enrollment at Fairfax High close to its current level, about 2,630 students, for the next five years.

School Board members are scheduled to vote on the boundary ­changes May 9.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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