Bound to Change

Bound to Change

New schools create domino effect on boundaries.

Three new elementary schools opening next year could affect the boundaries of several elementary school in Loudoun, Superintendent of Schools Edgar Hatrick told the School Board at the Nov. 12 meeting.

Countryside Elementary School will be opening in the Countryside development, Frances Hazel Reid north of Leesburg and Mountain View north of Purcellville, along with two other schools. The new elementary schools could cause the boundaries for 21 existing schools to change, according to a staff recommendation on school attendance boundaries. In eastern Loudoun, the schools that could be affected include Algonkian, Horizon, Lowes Island, Meadowland, Potowmack, Sterling and Sugarland Run elementary schools.

“We hope this is the last time [we have] to set boundaries,” Hatrick said about the Countryside school opening. “This is an area that’s growing out.”

Staff made the recommendation after reviewing more than 100 proposed plans submitted by staff, School Board members and community members. For the boundary changes, the staff considered enrollment projections, the location and capacity of affected schools and the proximity of the schools to existing and planned communities, a few of the criteria mentioned in the School Board bylaws.

“This is the best combination,” said Sam Adamo, director of planning and legislative services. “We were able to balance the current and projected student enrollments and create boundaries we believe will be relatively lasting. … We’re anticipating these will be permanent boundaries more or less.”

STAFF AIMED to balance the enrollment of schools in the Countryside area, Adamo said. The staff weighed test scores and English as a Second Language (ESL) and Free and Reduced Lunches data for the balance, since the district is required to meet the No Child Left Behind federal standard. The standard measures a school based on the lowest performing group in that school, so that if the group fails, the whole school fails.

“We’re trying to achieve some equality here,” Hatrick said.

School Board member John Andrews (Broad Run) said he does not support the staff proposal. “The staff plan basically has three split feeders, Horizon, Sugarland and Potowmack, feeding into middle schools,” he said, referring to schools that send students from the same elementary school to different middle schools.

“I have significant reservations about it,” said School Board member Thomas Reed (At large), adding that he planned to drive the boundaries and talk to residents about them last weekend. “I see difficulties with boundaries for Lowes Island, Algonkian and Horizon. … A boundary should be continuous.”

Reed said some of the boundaries as proposed may prevent students from going to nearby schools. “If I could see the school and I wasn’t going there, I would have concerns,” he said.

THE SCHOOL BOARD will hold a public hearing on the proposed attendance zones for eastern Loudoun area elementary schools at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at River Bend Middle School. The board is scheduled to adopt attendance zones Dec. 10 to implement in fall 2003.