A report released Tuesday about projected surges in school enrollment in western Loudoun County urged the School Board to keep old and new campuses there small, despite the residential development headed that way.
But the Rural Loudoun Schools Study Committee made no recommendation on the most controversial question: whether to close or consolidate some western schools, most of which are the oldest and smallest in the 26,000-student system.
"The committee felt [too] limited to evaluate each school individually," said Nancy Doane, of Lovettsville, co-chairman of the parent panel.
Instead, the report suggested another study. It would examine which schools are equipped to handle an influx of students, which schools could be renovated or expanded, and whether instruction is hampered by schools' relative small sizes.
The committee was appointed by the School Board and began meeting in December. Parents of western Loudoun students spurred the committee's formation after expressing concerns that their children would be bused to schools in eastern Loudoun because the neighborhood schools in the west were becoming too crowded.
The panel has been mired in conflict in recent weeks after two chairmen, Peter N. Dezendorf and Charles Beardsley, quit the advisory group. A third, Ed Higgins, resigned his chairmanship but agreed to stay on the committee.
Higgins, who lives in Purcellville, spoke at Tuesday night's meeting, blasting the committee for failing to come up with substantive recommendations to address the spiraling growth. Elementary school enrollment in the west is expected to rise 66 percent during the next few years, depending on when approved development in the area begins.
"Available data was not processed," Higgins said. "It was simply ignored."
In her presentation to the board, Doane acknowledged the heated discussions that characterized some meetings.
"We have . . . learned some valuable lessons in group dynamics," she said, prompting a chuckle from the crowd.
Other recommendations in the report include limiting the capacity of new schools to 450 to 600 students and restricting school bus rides to an hour or less one way.
The committee also urged the board to address the predicted teacher shortage that will affect all areas of the county, not just the western flank.
School Board Chairman Joseph W. Vogric (Dulles) said he would schedule a meeting between the board and the study committee for next month to give board members time to read the 107-page document and develop questions for committee members.