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9 Schools Affected in Boundary Changes

The process to determine the boundaries of the new northeast Centreville elementary school is now underway. Parents met last Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Rocky Run Middle School to obtain information and offer their input.

The school will open in Centreville Farms in September to help ease overcrowding in local elementaries. And while its boundaries are being created, the Fairfax County school system also hopes to adjust the enrollment picture at nine other elementaries: Greenbriar East and West, Poplar Tree, Brookfield, Centre Ridge, Centreville, Union Mill, Willow Springs and Providence (in Fairfax City).

"We gave [parents] updated enrollment projections for these schools and told them School Board policies regarding boundary changes," said Gary Chevalier, director of the school system's Facilities Planning Services. They also learned of some proposed student shifts.

Union Mill is projected to have a couple hundred extra spaces for students and could possibly help relieve overcrowded Centre Ridge. A new GT center proposed at Oak Hill Elementary could take some of Greenbriar West's GT students. Another GT center, proposed for Providence, could accommodate some of Willow Springs' GT students.

Centre Ridge holds 918 students, yet is projected to have 1,057 by September 2003 and 1,115 by September 2007. Chevalier attributes it to internal growth in Centreville, plus lots of multifamily homes and rentals in that neighborhood.

Greenbriar West holds 640 students, but is projected for 1,042 by September 2003 and 1,161 by September 2007. Greenbriar East is expected to be 200 students over its capacity by September 2007. "It's due to continued growth in Fair Lakes and along Stringfellow Road, and growth in the GT program," said Chevalier. However, he noted that all the school-enrollment projections "don't include the proposed drawdowns in the GT centers — just if everything remained the same, without the new school."

Poplar Tree, with a 786-student capacity, was projected for 886 children by September and 1,139, four years later. "That's because we assigned the Faircrest [formerly Centreville Farms] community there before the new elementary school [became a reality]," said Chevalier. "All that will change when we set boundaries for the new school."

Willow Springs, which holds 930, is projected for 1,036 students by September, with 1,113, four years later. Chevalier said home construction in Buckley's Reserve, on the north side of Route 29, is fueling those figures.

So instead of just concentrating on the new school's boundaries, he said, "We're looking at that whole side of Centreville. This gives us more options and a chance to take a more comprehensive look at the eastern edge of Centreville."

For example, said Chevalier, "Because the Greenbriars are so crowded, we've looked for opportunities to move new development into other areas before sending it to Greenbriar West. And we moved a lot of the new development by the [county] Government Center into Providence that, otherwise, would have gone to Greenbriar East."

About 200 people attended last week's boundary meeting, the first of three. They broke into small groups and developed lists of what they believe the school system should consider when changing boundaries. And they identified possible geographic boundaries and areas that could go to the new school, plus others that could be moved among the existing schools.

Their suggestions were then posted on the walls so each group could see them. The Office of Educational Planning will now compile them all and send them to Facilities Planning. "We'll look at the common themes — what's mentioned most often," said Chevalier. "Then, at the second meeting [Nov. 20], we'll bring back plans that address those issues."

Parents last week were concerned about what types of programs the new school might have. "Clearly, it won't solve all the problems — it's just the first step," said Chevalier. "But folks were willing to listen and gave us some really good feedback." Their comments will be posted on the Web site, www.fcps.edu. Click on "School boundary information — northeast Centreville elementary boundary study, community meeting No. 1."

At the November meeting, parents will receive three possible boundary scenarios that Facilities Planning believes are workable. They'll then be asked to list what's good and bad about each one. At the third meeting, Dec. 11, they'll receive a plan incorporating the best features of all three scenarios and will be asked to tell how it can be improved.

School system staff is to recommend a boundary plan to the School Board on Jan. 23. A public hearing on it is scheduled for Feb. 10, followed by the School Board's vote on Feb. 27. Those unable to attend the boundary meetings, but wishing to participate may e-mail comments or questions to Boundaries@fcps.edu or mail them to Facilities Planning Services, 10640 Page Ave., Fairfax, VA 22030.