The Loudoun County School Board is scheduled to adopt a new attendance zone map for middle and high schools in the Ashburn and Dulles North area Tuesday, after a weeks-long rezoning process that has sparked an impassioned response from many in the affected communities.
The board’s meeting room has been packed by parents and students, most wearing color-coordinated clothing to identify their community and school affiliation, at public hearings over the past few weeks. Hundreds of speakers have made appeals on behalf of their schools and neighborhoods, echoing a common refrain: Keep us together, and keep us at our school.
New boundary lines are needed to accommodate the opening in fall 2014 of Trailside Middle School, which will be adjacent to Newton-Lee Elementary, and an unnamed high school, HS-6, near Rosa Lee Carter Elementary. A second unnamed high school, HS-8, is also scheduled to open in the Lansdowne development in fall 2015.
As with all rezoning processes, school officials said they are trying to alleviate crowding, accommodate a fast-growing student population and maintain demographically and academically balanced school communities.
Sam Adamo, director of planning and legislative services for the Loudoun public schools, opened the rezoning process in early March with a plan that focused on evenly redistributing the student population across the area’s secondary schools. But residents balked at the map, which would have divided several of the county’s largest communities.
A series of alternative proposals by board members and community members followed, but all required the division of communities that wanted to stay together. Throughout the often-emotional process, board members have reminded residents that no solution will please everyone.
At the most recent public hearing Monday hundreds of families with students enrolled at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn flooded the school administration building’s board room to make their voices heard. Although Briar Woods is already well over capacity — construction of HS-6 was expedited to help ease crowding at the school — parents made it clear that they wanted their children to stay there. Residents of the Brambleton and Broadlands communities urged board members not to move their students to HS-6.
Briar Woods is more than 140 students above capacity, according to school records, even with 10 trailers to help reduce crowding in classrooms. Broad Run High School, also part of the area being rezoned, is crowded, as well. Officials said Broad Run has nine trailers in use on school grounds.
The School Board presented two new plans at Monday’s meeting. Plan 11 would keep Brambleton at Briar Woods and move Broadlands to HS-6. Plan 12 would keep Broadlands at Briar Woods and move Brambleton to HS-6.
The School Board is scheduled to adopt a final attendance zone plan at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting will be in the school administration building in Ashburn.