On the first night of public hearings on proposed boundaries for four new elementary schools that will open in the fall, parents from three neighborhoods in Great Falls complained that their children bear a greater burden of change mandated under the plan.
Parents from the north end of Seneca Road, Hickory Creek, and Fox Run subdivisions said their children will spend too much time on school buses and sacrifice close relationships with their friends.
“After-school scheduling will be in chaos,” said Antonio Konieczny. “
Pam Boers urged the board to reassign neighborhoods south of Route 7, including those on Sugarland Road such as Millwood, Sugar Creek, and Grand Hamptons, to Aldrin and Armstrong Elementary Schools to optimize capacity there.
“Route 7 is slated to be a six-lane road,” she said. “That is a visible, man-made barrier. Crossing Route 7 is dangerous for those children.”
A second hearing was scheduled after press time on Feb. 11. A third will be held on Feb. 20 if public interest demands it.
Since last fall, Fairfax County Public Schools facilities planners have been drawing attendance boundaries for the Andrew Chapel site in Vienna, Island Creek in the Alexandria area. Lorton Station in Lorton and Northeast Centreville in Centreville.
Six new gifted and talented centers are also proposed at Andrew Chapel, Lorton Station, Clearview in Herndon, Mosby Woods in Fairfax, Oak Hill in Herndon, and Riverside in Mount Vernon.
Several parents from Great Falls asked that at least two classrooms per grade level be preserved at the existing GT center at Forest Edge Elementary in Reston.
“Forest Edge should be considered a model to emulate because it has been so successful,” said Jennie Johas of Herndon.
Here are some other comments from residents.
Blair Glennon, a Langley High School senior
"Having attended Great Falls Elementary and subsequently becoming friends with many students from Forestville, I believe the curriculum offered at Great Falls Elementary is not comparable to the core knowledge curriculum offered at Forestville. This was evident by students who qualified to take [gifted and talented] classes at Cooper [Middle] in 1997 and is still evident at Langley [High] in 2003."
Claire Jones, Seneca Road resident
"I am here tonight because I feel that our neighborhood has not received the positives we had hoped for with the building of a new school. Naturally, being at the most northwest corner of the county and also at the end of a pipe stem, we were shocked to hear that we are slated to be transferred to Great Falls Elementary, a fine school, but with drawbacks for our neighborhood."
Lori Latulip, Fox Run resident
"We are not opposed to attending Andrew Chapel because we know that it will be an outstanding school with high test scores and a new building. As our children's advocates for a healthy quality of life, we are opposed to busing our kids unnecessarily to the school at the furthest distance and this in itself will have a negative impact on our kids. We ask that you manage pupil placement giving our kids priority instead of kids who are no longer legitimate or necessary" at Forestville Elementary.
Jack Barufrka Wyndham Hills resident
"Moving our neighborhood to the new school at Andrew Chapel would be highly and permanently disruptive. The only viable route to the new school is Rt. 7. The children in my neighborhood would pass Forestville and travel east on Rt. 7 in rush-hour traffic."
Laura O'Connor, Seneca Road resident
"I am terribly disillusioned to find out that none of the main objectives set forth in this boundary adjustment have been met. Option 5 does not relieve the overcrowding at the area elementary schools nor has the space at Andrew Chapel Elementary School been effectively used."
Marion Devlin, Ascot resident
"Our neighborhood is only four-tenths of a mile from Forestville. … However, some have suggested that our neighborhood should be moved from Forestville simply because of our Reston mailing address."
Steve Roman, Seneca Road resident
“It will be a dark day” when children from the north end of Seneca Road are reassigned from Forestville to Great Falls Elementary. “In choosing Forestville, I was guided by my mother, who taught school in Fairfax County for many years. You need to do something about this.”
Patty Craver, Seneca Road resident
"Moving our children from Forestville to Great Falls doesn't make sense. Our children should attend the school in closest proximity to their homes. Please keep the northwestern portion of Great Falls at Forestville."
Lauren Carbaugh, Hickory Creek resident
"Hickory Creek is less than one mile from Great Falls Elementary School. The bus ride to Andrew Chapel will be in excess of four miles, over one-lane bridges and across traffic onto Route 7, which alternates between rush-hour gridlock in the mornings and 55-mph speeds in the afternoon. Option 5 is extremely biased for keeping neighborhoods that are at Forestville at Forestville.”
Antonio Konieczny, Hickory Creek resident
"My Cub Scout troop will not be able to meet because everyone will be at different schools. After-school scheduling will be in chaos. You dismissed the option of building a smaller school within the community because we needed the extra classroom seats. Then you allocated 200 seats away to the GT program. This results in the same size school that you rejected to be built in the community.
Sharon Saile, Shouse Village resident
"I support Option 5 because I believe it provides a fair balance between the needs of the new school and those of the existing schools."
Pam Boers Seneca Road resident
“The bus would be driving our kids over three one-lane bridges and one blind hairpin turn.
Route 7 is slated to be widened to six-lanes. That is a visible, man-made barrier. Crossing Route 7 is dangerous for those children. The neighborhoods south of Rt. 7 could optimize the capacity” at Armstrong and Aldrin Elementaries.
Seneca Road resident
“We strongly support Option 1 and oppose Option 5.”
Steve Topetzes, Fox Run Neighborhood
“This plan perpetuates the isolation of Fox Run and exacerbates the impact.”
<sh>G/T Centers at Andrew Chapel and Clearview
Cristina Binzer, Forest Edge parent
"In the event projections are wrong, we need you as a school board, to allocate part of your discretionary funds to make this happen [having two classes per grade level at the center] at Forest Edge. We need you as a school board to support slightly smaller classes than the norm until your projections materialize and actual numbers reach what is required."
Andrew Gluck, Forest Edge GT parent
"To promote teacher excellence a minimum of two classes per grade is absolutely necessary to achieve the critical mass needed to sustain the kind of diversity of interests, breadth of experience and teacher collaboration that makes the GT experience as powerful as it can be."
Jonathan Sklar, Woodland Estates Homeowners Association, president
"We simply cannot understand why the children farthest away from Andrew Chapel are bused right past students who are going to Forest Edge. We don't mind staying at Forest Edge, we mind having our community broken apart.
Forest Edge will lose 50 percent of the PTA funding as a result of the disproportionate effect of losing 80 percent of the population from schools with parents that can contribute support. [The plan favors] consideration to parents who chose a certain neighborhood in the Langley Pyramid.”
Jeannie Johns, Forest Edge GT parent
"I appreciate the fact that the county has modified [its] initial proposal such that Forestville students will not be removed as a feeder school. My hope is that this modification will draw enough students to fill two classes per grade."