As student crowding forces Fairfax County to consider shifting attendance boundaries for about 50 schools, some white parents are fighting proposals that would put their children in classrooms with more minorities.

At several tense community meetings last week where officials unveiled boundary proposals for schools in the Annandale, Baileys Crossroads and Falls Church areas, some parents said administrators are moving borders solely to change the racial balance of classrooms.

In the past 10 years, a flood of immigrant families has settled in eastern Fairfax. More than a quarter of the county's 130,000 students are minorities, with far higher concentrations in areas inside the Capital Beltway and along the Route 1 corridor.

By 1998, fewer than half the students in the eastern part of the county will be white, according to school system projections.

Some white parents in the nearly all-white crowds at last week's meetings said they were concerned that having too many students who don't speak English in the classroom would drag down their children academically.

"Everyone's fear is that the teacher compromises," said Phyllis Sergent, whose 8-year-old daughter would be moved from Columbia Elementary School to Annandale Terrace, where there are more minority students. "She teaches down. She doesn't teach at your child's level because some of the kids don't speak English."

School Board policy mandates that racial balance be considered during redistricting. But officials said reducing classroom crowding -- not changing the racial makeup of schools -- is the main objective of the current proposals, which face a School Board vote in March.

"People talked about hidden agendas here tonight, and that makes me angry," district planning director James S. Johnson Jr. said at one meeting. "There's no hidden agenda here. We don't want our kids in overcrowded classrooms."

Marlene Holayter, superintendent for the area, bristled at the idea that having more non-white students in the classroom would mean less academic success.

"Just because you don't speak American English, just because you don't have the right skin color, doesn't make you a lesser person," she said. "They're saying {diversity} is a bad thing, but it's really a good thing.

"The kids who go to the schools learn about all kinds of culture, and after they get out they can live with everybody."

While some white parents resist having their children moved to schools that have high minority enrollments, other white parents with children in those schools say the proposals don't do enough to move in more white students.

Parent Mary Louise Kelley criticized a proposal to move students from several predominantly white neighborhoods outside the Capital Beltway from Annandale High School, with about 40 percent minorities, to W.T. Woodson High School, with about 18 percent minorities.

"I want them pushed, I want them challenged," she said of her two children, who live in the Annandale High School attendance area. "I don't want them surrounded by hoodlums . . . . I'm concerned about what kind of high school I'm buying into."

Some parents are concerned that the boundary proposals are motivated the district's desire to raise test scores in some schools. Sergent believes school officials want to shift several neighborhoods from Columbia to Annandale Terrace Elementary School to improve test scores at Annandale.

"They haven't been able to improve the scores for some time, so now they're trying to move kids in from higher economic backgrounds who score better on tests," she said.

Those parents see dropping test scores as a sign that some inner suburban high schools such as Annandale are troubled.

At JEB Stuart High School near Falls Church, with about 60 percent minorities, the average Scholastic Aptitude Test score has fallen 57 points in the past four years, to 858 points out of a possible 1,600.

At Annandale High School, the average has plummeted 75 points to 898, below the national average of 900 and the Fairfax average of 976.

Educators say lower average SAT scores are a reflection of language difficulties, not lower intelligence, among immigrant students.

"It makes me angry," said Barbara Ann Nissen, principal at Poe Intermediate School, which has a 40 percent minority student body, about the parents' criticism. "We have programs for every kid. We try to take kids from where they are and advance them."

Some parents say they would move to another neighborhood to get their children into a school with higher test scores and a better reputation. David and Barbara Jacobi, who have a son in fourth grade, say they intend to move from the Annandale High School attendance area to the Woodson area.

"They make the school into a school nobody would want to send their kids to," Barbara Jacobi said. "It's already bad enough."