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Drawing Lines

Proposed changes to West Springfield High boundary lines create conflict in Daventry neighborhood.

Parents in the Daventry area of Springfield may be a minority in the big picture of families impacted by the West Springfield boundary study, but at a meeting Thursday night, they were the most vocal.

"The system is a little broken right now," said Jay Rouse, a Daventry parent.

When Rouse retired from the military, he chose to move his family to the Daventry neighborhood under the promise from his Realtor that his children would go to West Springfield High School. Under the current boundaries, however, his children would attend Lee High School.

"When your students go door to door with their fund-raisers, we give them money. This is our community," said Rouse, addressing the parents that nearly filled the West Springfield High School auditorium. "Everything we do revolves around this school."

The meeting was the second in a series of two town hall meetings organized by the Fairfax County Public School's Office of Facilities Planning Services to discuss possible outcomes of a boundary study that may shift students out of West Springfield to address overcrowding concerns.

"The South Hunt community was moved from Lee High School into West Springfield when we did a boundary study for the South County Secondary School last year," said Gary Chevalier, director of the office of Facilities Planning Services. Parents at West Springfield were concerned about their school becoming overcrowded, which led to the current boundary study.

At the previous meeting on Oct. 19, input from parents resulted in the elimination of two possible boundary changes. The first change would have eliminated split-feeder schools, where children from one elementary or middle school are sent to two different high schools. The second change, he said, would have "attempted to hold down the population at West Springfield by moving more Keene Mill [Elementary] students into Lake Braddock Secondary School."

INFORMATION AND suggestions from parents at the first meeting showed support for those changes, Chevalier said, but the majority opinion was to look at other options.

"The third possible outcome moves Daventry students out of Lee High School, " said Chevalier. That option would increase the population of students at West Springfield High School by "about 20 students per grade level," he said.

The fourth option, to leave the boundaries as they currently stand, was greeted by a round of applause from parents.

Enrollment studies suggest that the population at Lee, West Springfield and Lake Braddock will all decrease on their own without any changes by the 2010-11 school year, Chevalier said.

According to information handed out at the meeting, if option three is approved by the School Board in February, enrollment at West Springfield would rise to 2,230 students for the 2006-07 school year and would be at 2,241 by 2010. The school has a capacity of 2225 students. No change in enrollment would occur at Irving Middle School, Lake Braddock Secondary School or Key Middle School, but enrollment at Lee High School would drop from 1,904 students to 1,879 students for 2006-07. Lee's enrollment would continue to drop to 1,675 students by the 2010-11 school year. Lee has a capacity of 1,850 students.

Neither the third or fourth option has a large impact on the racial or economic diversity of any school, Chevalier said.

Not all parents agreed that Daventry should be moved into West Springfield.

"It is not the job of the School Board to solve your buyer's regret," said Randi Adleberg, a Daventry mother and Robinson Secondary School teacher. "For 25 years, Daventry has gone to Lee High School."

Changing the boundaries would have a negative impact on school superintendent Dr. Jack Dale's "economic plan" by taking money received by corporations through the collecting of soup and cereal box labels and grocery store receipts, Adleberg said.

"If you pull Daventry out of Lee, it will work adversely to Dr. Dale's goal of economic parity," she said.

Another parent, Bob Briggs from the Keene Mill neighborhood, said parents deserved an apology from the school system.

"We got screwed over from this whole process," Briggs said. "We want an apology for the stress of this last year. We should get one and the boundaries should revert to what they were last year."

The possible changes are creating a rift in Daventry itself, said resident Joe Fontanella.

"When people come in here and speak of 'we at Daventry,' there is no 'we' at Daventry," he said. "This is a divisive issue. We're proud of our kids' achievements at Lee High School. There are some opportunities they have at Lee they wouldn't have at West Springfield."

Responses from small group discussion about the two possible boundary changes will be available in the Boundary Study link on the school system's Web site, www.fcps.edu, in the coming weeks.